Last updated: 12 September 2016      
Solar Cookers - Saving Madagascar's Forests Global 300007:14

Solar Cookers - Saving Madagascar's Forests Global 3000

ADES employs over 30 local trainers and carpenters in three communities, including carpenters hand-crafting wooden solar box cookers in Tulear, Madagascar.


See also: Global Calendar of Events and Past events in Madagascar

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ADES employs over 30 local trainers and carpenters in three communities, including carpenters hand-crafting wooden solar box cookers in Tulear (photo: ADES)


Parabolic cookers and solar box cookers can work in a complementary fashion to meet a variety of cooking needs (photo: ADES)

  • Long term investment in Madagascar has created a thriving solar cooking enterprise- Since 2001, the Association pour le Développement de l’Energie Solaire (ADES) has been making and selling solar cookers in the southwestern part of Madagascar, providing much-needed cooking alternatives as well as employment for over 30 local carpenters and trainers. In 2003, ADES built its first permanent solar cooker construction workshop in Tulear. A second construction workshop was established in Ejeda in 2006, followed in 2008 by a workshop in Morondava. Each of these regional centers also has sales and demonstration offices. Future plans include development of a fourth regional center in Anosy or Antandroy, and the creation of two or three local branches within each region to reduce transportation distances and increase outreach capacity. According to ADES, southwestern Madagascar experiences about 330 sunny days per year and is a nearly ideal region for solar cooking. However, per capita income in Madagascar is only about $400 per year, making it difficult for families to afford solar cookers and spend their meager income on a technology they are not familiar with. Rising firewood and charcoal costs over the past few years are making solar cookers comparatively more affordable, but still out of reach for many. Subsidies have mostly come from donors in Switzerland and a handful of awards. The Madagascar government has provided some additional support, partnering with ADES to promote renewable energy in Tulear. Hand-crafted wooden solar box cookers, produced locally for upwards of $200 each, are sold at a subsidized price of just over $20. These cookers reach temperatures of up to 150 °C (302 °F), and are commonly used to cook rice, various root vegetables, meat, fish, bread, and cakes. Metal parabolic solar cookers are assembled locally for about $160 each, from aluminum and steel parts made by another local organization at an already subsidized price. The parabolic cookers are then sold at a subsidized price of about $50. These cookers reach even higher temperatures, but require stirring of food and more frequent adjustments to track the sun. They are particularly useful for frying, and can work in a complementary fashion with solar box cookers. Both cookers come with 7-year warranties. By the end of 2009, ADES had sold 4,640 solar cookers. It hopes to ramp up its outreach and sales capacity with funding from carbon credit offsets.



Solar box cooker at the school in Fiarenana

  • November 2012: Zahana reports that solar box cookers have been very well accepted in the schools. The students like it a lot and have been experimenting, and cooking is many things as possible. In the latest text message from the village, we received a little synopsis of the cooking efforts by the students. The students have been encouraged to keep notes. They recorded the time required to cook local foods: Rice, 2h30; Zebu, 2h30; Fish, 2h; Cassava, 2h30; Dried beans, 3h; Boiling water for coffee, 1h; Madeleine (small cake), 1h; Cassava cake, 2h. Note: they let the internal temperature go up to 100 degree C (216˚F) before the pot gets put in the solar cooker. Introducing solar cookers in the schools was a long-term project. The solar cookers have generated a lot of interest, because a solar cooker does not require firewood to make food for the children and, which seems to be even more important, there is no smoke in the cooking process, as with traditional firewood stoves. Zahana will tie together the solar cooker project and the tree-planting project intertwined in a tangible way. In December 2012, it will be a year we launched the official tree-planting project. Working with the community leaders, we will identify the person, who has planted the most trees that took root successfully. Planting trees alone, is no guarantee that they will grow, if it is not tended to and watered by the person planting it. We had told from the community from the beginning, that we will give awards in the first, second and third year, to the person who has planted the most trees that are still growing. This year the price will be a solar cooker.
Yuko Tomioka 1, 11-16-12

Niconet Tsukuba introduces solar cooking in Madagascar with the Sun Peace solar cooker.

Yuko Tomioka 2, 11-161-2
  • November 2012: Niconet Tsukuba has been introducing solar cookers to local citizens in Japan to increase people’s awareness of environmental and global issues, as well as to make small changes from their fossil-fuel-centered lifestyles to eco-friendly ones. Our programs are usually performed in an informal and relaxed manner, by our motto “Niconet’s 3E = Enjoy, Environment, and Eating.” Solar cooking is, in fact, effective for promoting communication with others. In 2011 -2012, we worked with the faculty of a local university to conduct an analysis on the efficiency of the Sun Peace solar cooker which was developed by our member Yuko Tomioka, by using thermo-graphic devices. We plan to include the results in our Solar cooking recipe booklet, which will be available on the web this year. In recent years, we also have focused on hand-made “retained heat cookers”. We introduced that newspaper as an effective material for insulating. While we are mainly active in the local area in Japan, some members are also active in other countries. Our member Fumi Sakurai stayed in Madagascar for two years, where serious deforestation is evident. She introduced villagers to the solar cooker Sun Peace. This solar cooker is easy to make because it does not require measurement. She suggested to some key persons in villages to use aluminum sheets of used snack packages for reflective material. It was found to work successfully in the sun-rich climate. Some villagers who learned how to make/use solar cookers became “teachers” and started to share the skills with others. In Japan, introducing such information is also useful for educational purposes.
  • November 2012: ADES from 2001 to 2012 - ADES started its solar cooking program in Madagascar in 2001 with a small carpentry shop under a party tent, two motivated carpenters and an instructress. Today we operate six centres with manufacturing facilities, a new sales point in Antananarivo, the capital and a coordination centre in Tuléar. ADES actually employs 85 persons and additionally created about 50 jobs in external enterprises. On average a family of 20 people is living off the salary of one employee. ADES is a socially sustainable employer. All the children of our employees go to school at our expense and the families are covered by health insurance. For each solar cooker sold we have two trees planted in a reforestation project in Madagascar. Read ADES from 2001 to 2012 to find out more and see photographs of our facilities, products, and activities.
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Madagascar, with its unique biological diversity, has attracted the attention of environmentalists from around the world to its rescue. It is somewhat surprising then to learn that little has been done to curtail the use of fuelwood as the major cooking energy for the population. Around one-fifth of the island's land has forest cover, which is diminishing at nearly 1% annually (FAO, 2003). A representative of the country, speaking at the Varese meeting in 1999, spoke of solar experimentation in the 1970s, revived in the 90s as deforestation worsened, but with little progress in mass implementation. The initial introduction was principally of parabolics, but later the 'breadbox" model was introduced and enthusiastically endorsed. The report called on governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses to attempt to establish a strong national program, urging that international research and development be done cooperatively and shared widely with smaller nations.

One program operating in Madagascar is run by the medical arm (SALFA) of the Malagasy Lutheran Church. SALFA runs 25 hospitals throughout the country. Dr. Stanley Quanback and his wife, medical missionaries in the country, initiated the project and helped to develop collaboration with another medical organization, Pathologists Overseas. Teaching materials and consultation were provided to the volunteers by California volunteer, Alice Hoenecke, sociologist Agnes Rasamimampianina , and nutritionist Sosanna Suzanne, the latter two employees of SALFA and citizens of the country.

The group began by training women in one village in a semiarid region of the country. The trainees were hospital staff members and members of a churchwomen's organization. As stated above, fuelwood was become very scarce and expensive. Miss Sosanna directs the project, supervising 15 trainers who are working now in 11 villages. Primary health centers are usually the site for training in the use of solar cookers. They estimated, as of 2003, that there were 1,000 users and others begging to have solar cookers made available to them.

[1] Another project currently active in Madagascar is l'Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire (ADES) is an NGO and a non-profit organization that produces solar cookers in Madagascar and supports the use of renewable energy sources. It started in Tuléar in the south of Madagascar in 2001. Local production by local people with local material is part of the ADES philosophy.

Archived articles

Climate and culture

Solar Cookers International has rated Madagascar as the #19 country in the world in terms of solar cooking potential (See: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential). The estimated number of people in Madagascar with fuel scarcity but ample sun in 2020 is 3,000,000.

From Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire: For centuries the population of Madagascar has been cooking their food with charcoal, which requires vast amounts of firewood in its production. About 90% of the original forest in Madagascar has been destroyed. It is not any more a green island but becomes more and more a red one. Madagascar has, especially in the south and southwest regions of the country, close to ideal conditions for the use of solar energy. The solar cookers and efficient stoves are an important contribution towards halting the deforestation process. Besides environmental reasons, there are also economical and practical reasons to favor the solar cooker. Families spend less money on wood and charcoal, and cooking with the solar cooker saves having to cook over smoky fires and avoid the associated respiratory disease.

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Possible funders

Construction plans in Malagasy

Project evaluations

Articles in the media

Audio and video

  • May 2012:
Solar Cookers - Saving Madagascar's Forests Global 300007:14

Solar Cookers - Saving Madagascar's Forests Global 3000

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