Last updated: March 31, 2015
Sustainable Rural Life is the new face of the HotPot Initiative that was launched by the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature in 2003. Delivering HotPots and training communities how to use them, served as an effective introduction to clean cooking and provided an alternative to burning firewood in indigenous communities around the country. Approximately 20,000 HotPots have been distributed in sixteen states of Mexico. Another 464 were purchased by MFCN and delivered by local partners, and 445 fuel-efficient woodstoves of various types were also delivered between March and September 2012. At SRL they believe that using the Hot Pot, together with fuel-efficient cookstoves, is the best option to improve cooking habits in Mexico. Read more at Sustainable Rural Life: Update 2012.
News and recent developments
- January 2015: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects - Solar Household Energy is revitalizing relationships with previous partner the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, or FMCN) to assess long-term project outcomes. FMCN has distributed over 25,000 HotPots in Mexico. Quantifying the lasting impacts of these projects will prove HotPot long-term adoption and durability, demonstrating that the HotPot is a viable clean cooking solution. Read more: Assessing lasting impacts of HotPot projects in Mexico - SHE
- August, 2014: TrinySol built and installed a series of reflectors in El Sauz, Mexico. The cookers are either 10-square-meters or 16-square-meters and can cook for up to 60 people, said Gregor Schäpers. More info...
- September 2013: In conjunction with the Municipal government of Tapachula in Chiapas, Mexico, the Rotary Club of Tapachula Centenario has sponsored a number of solar cooking workshops in 2012 and 2013. Forty-four new instructors were trained in how to present solar cooking workshops back in their home communities. Restaurant staff was introduced to solar cooking in Santo Domingo, and at the Universidad Valle del Grijalva, City and Tapachula, culinary students were also introduced to solar cooking. On-site Experimental INIFAP "Rosario Izapa" trained twenty-seven people as users of alternative cooking systems. More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/ClubRotarioTapachula/photos_albums
- November 2012: GloboSol annual report: Switzerland/Germany - Partner-meeting “Skillshare” - As a “première”, some of our closest friends and solar colleagues from various foreign countries were invited to visit Globosol with Michael Götz. In the course of a manifold study and sight-seeing program, they also became acquainted with parts of Switzerland and southern Germany. Unfortunately only two guests were able to participate: Lorena Harp from Oaxaca, Mexico, the co-organizer of the project “Food-stalls in Mexico”, and Sourakatou Ouro-Bangna, head of the solar center “Solasol” in Sokode,Togo. It was a stimulating event that nevertheless raised questions and unfortunately required significant administrative expense.
- November 2012: GloboSol annual report: Mexico - Solar energy for food stalls - This project, beginning in autumn 2009, has been characterized by a particular dynamic. Often typical of the bureaucratic planning process in Mexico, decisions can be made very spontaneously and without forethought for the future, a big challenge for the project’s manager, Michael Götz, who is continually evaluating the possibilities and finding new ways of improvising for project success. Central to Phase 3 of the project, which ran from November 2011 until May 2012, were further improvements to the Taqueria Poncho, solar street vendor equipment, extension of the food stalls to small restaurants and food processing businesses, construction of a gastro-steamer for a canteen, and building a demonstration center website, Cocina Solar Mexico.
- August 2012: FMCN involved in Proyecto Olla Solar that involved distribution of a modified CooKit called the Xuni. Read more...
- May 2012:Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Fresno, California, led by Wilfred and Marie Pimentel, teamed up with the Rotary Club of Tapachula Centenario, Mexico, to host a five-day integrated cooking workshop in Tapachula. This is the tenth grant project completed in Mexico by the Rotary Club of Fresno. Although only twenty students were expected to attend, ninety-one arrived on opening day to participate—a clear indication of the desperate need for affordable fuel-saving cooking devices in this region. Local instructors and expert solar cooks from Torreon and Oaxaca led the workshop. Participants learned to build three types of rocket stoves: mud and chopped grass, five gallon tin can, and sixteen brick, which were used to make tortillas. Students cut out cardboard sheets and glued them to pieces of aluminum foil to make solar panel CooKits. A variety of meat, vegetable and egg dishes were prepared with the CooKits along with desserts like pineapple upside down cake. Students also learned how to use WAPI’s to pasteurize water with a CooKit. Finally, the instructors showed their ninety-one students how easy it is to make a retained heat cooker with a pillowcases and crumpled newspaper stuffed into a woven basket. Read more about the event and see more photos...
The history of solar cooking in Mexico
A substantial amount of solar cooking activity has been instituted in Mexico under a wide range of auspices, almost certainly more than can be described here. Girl Scout leader Barby Pulliam has conducted training programs for Girl Scout leaders and other representatives of NGOs in a number of cities and towns. Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel has also conducted a number of pilot programs in various cities. In some of those places, Rotary and Girl Scouts joined forces. A number of missions and other religious groups have promoted solar cookers in various parts of the country. One example is the Mission Mazahua, in Atlacomulco, which has produced around 600 cookers. Several university faculty members have conducted research on cooking devices, as well.
Currently, a large project is underway in an unusual venue, a nature conservancy area, the Sierra Gorda Nature Reserve. In the spring of 2003, Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE, Inc.) conducted a training program to test user acceptance of a new solar device called the HotPot. The device uses a modified CooKit design, initially of a plastic material rather than cardboard, and later metal. The black pot is enclosed within a tempered glass "greenhouse" instead of the plastic bag used in the original CooKit.
The Director of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Lorenzo Rosenzweig, has partnered with SHE, Inc. in planning and implementation of the project.
Within the confines of nature conservancies in Mexico, as elsewhere, trees cannot be cut down for use as fuelwood. Households living within the area thus must find other sources of energy for cooking. Therefore, the managing group of the Sierra Gorda site, the Grupo Ecologico de Sierra Gorda, was delighted to explore the potential of solar cooking. The town of Purisima and a village, Mavi, were selected as the site for the initial training program.
Ms. Meyer traveled to Mexico in May, and conducted training for Sierra Gorda women, who were given HotPots and trained in their use over a two-day period. After the training, Ms. Meyer visited the women in their homes as follow-up for days of further training and coaching. The women were all interested in what others were cooking, and eventually a throng of cooks accompanied Ms. Meyer on most visits, enhancing the group learning substantially. Two women from the group were chosen for additional training in "how to teach others". The new trainers were again visited and coached in the art of training.
This pilot project, growing into a large scale follow up in other areas of Mexico, was among the winners of the 2003 Development Marketplace competition, held annually by the World Bank. The award of funds to SHE, Inc. in collaboration with the Fondo Mexicano will permit faster dissemination of the new Hotpot in this area and perhaps in other parts of South America. Reports on this activity will become available later in 2004 on the SHE, Inc. web site (she-inc.org). The Sun Oven Organization, an offshoot of Sun Ovens International, is also working in Mexico, though its main offices for the area are in Europe. They report promoting both Sun Ovens and Sheffler type parabolics in Cuernavaca and Mexico City (http://email@example.com>) The parabolic portion of this work, conducted by the Grupo Scheffler de Mexico installs large commercial and institutional cooking and water heating.
The first industrial solar kitchen of México (6 Schefflers reflectors of 10m2) was built in the Hidalgo State by Gregor Shäpers. New projects are on the pipeline in Hidalgo and Jalisco states, and in particular for steam applications.
Climate, culture, and special considerationsMexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country with over 100 million inhabitants. One-quarter of the population lives in Mexico City, the world’s largest city. Rapid population growth and industrialization in Mexico over the last few decades have put an enormous strain on the environment, economy and on individual health.
Less than 10% of Mexico’s native tropical rainforests remain today. These rainforests are limited to southeastern Mexico and are most threatened by subsistence activities—especially fuel wood collection. Fuel wood supplies 69% of the energy consumption in rural areas, particularly for cooking. As the supply of wood decreases it negatively impacts the lives of the people who depend on it.
For instance, women and girls are responsible for procuring fuel wood and they must travel farther from home as wood becomes more scarce. This task demands many hours and minimizes opportunities to attend school and participate in income-generating activities. In other areas, it is no longer feasible to gather wood. Families in these areas can spend 15% to 37% of their income on wood and/or gas.
In addition to the negative environmental and economic impact of fuel wood dependence, women and children suffer from health problems caused by cooking inside small, enclosed kitchens that often lack windows or other ventilation. Women and children inhale toxic smoke for many hours each day which can lead to pneumonia and respiratory infections, the biggest killers of children under five years of age.
- Fundacion Realidad A.C (FRAC), a partner of World Vision International
- Fundación para la Vivienda Progresiva (FVP), a partner of CHF International
- February 2013: Kit Para Cocina Solar - Xuni
- January 2009: CHOCOSOL- An Experience of Producing Joy Without Generating Malice - Aline Desentis Otálora
- January 2009: Agave syrup production – a sweet tradition goes solar - Gregor Schäpers
- July 2006: Una entrevista con Mariana Díaz del Fundo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (FMCN) - (English version)
- August 2006: Report on the use of HotPot solar cookers to reduce air pollution from cooking fires in northern Mexico
Articles in the media
- April 2009: Boise Resident Introduces Solar Cooking to Small Communities in Mexico - US Peace Corps
- Summer 2005: Mexican Straw Weavers in Mixteca Region of Oaxaca Learn to Solar Cook - Weave A Real Peace Newsletter
Grupo de discusión en Facebook
Audio and video
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- February 2009: