News and Recent Developments
- May 2010: As a follow-up to the matching grant between the Rotary Club of Fresno,California, with Wilfred and Marie Pimentel and host Rotary Club of Kigali, with J. Cally Alles begun in 2003, the federal government has adopted the Rocket Stove as the official wood stove. This eliminates the 3-stone fire, which uses much wood, causes lung and eye disease, deforestation, and occasional burns on children. The new stove will be saving 60% to 80% of the wood required for cooking. This is a result of the success of the Integrated Cooking Method, which teaches the benefits of solar cooking, rocket stoves, fireless cookers, and a WAPI (water pasteurization indicator) where unclean drinking water is pasteurized by solar cooker or rocket stove to the pasteurization temperature of 145° F. The association between the Rotary Clubs are also about to start, with J. Cally Alles, a national WAPI program where they will be manufactured in Rwanda.
- April 2010: U.S-based True Vineyard Ministries provides sustainable opportunities for widows and children impacted by genocide, subsequent conflicts, and HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. Its “Bake the Cycle” project is helping to break the cycle of poverty by providing solar bakery jobs to 10 widowed women supporting families in Ruhengeri. The bakery provides a variety of breads to local businesses and families. The women use a commercial-sized Villager Sun Oven® that reaches temperatures in excess of 250°C and can bake hundreds of loaves of bread each day. It has a propane backup system for evening use and during inclement weather. According to True Vineyard Ministries, the project is already having an impact. “For the first time in the widows’ lives, they are able to consistently provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for their families.”
- November 12-15, 2008: Third Annual Conference on Appropriate Technology, Rigali, Rwanda
- January 2007: Rotary Club gives solar cookers to Rwandan poor - The Fresno Bee
- January 2007: Nearly $6,000 was collected on January 8th at a Fresno Rotary luncheon for the purchase of sewing machines to be used by Women Associations participating in solar cooking, making of haybaskets, rocket stoves, and WAPI's in Rwanda. Contact: Wilfred Pimentel
- January 2005: A Land of a Thousand Hills - Rwanda (Report on Rotary Club activities with solar cooking in Rwanda.)
The History of Solar Cooking in Rwanda
This small landlocked, very populous nation occupies a significant role in solar cooking history. In 1994 when a civil war broke out in the nation, millions of people fled to neighboring then-Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) as refugees. This exodus, one of the largest in a short period, overwhelmed available services initially and this situation did not improve for a substantial period of time. The event occurred just as representatives of the solar cooking community from around the world were meeting in Costa Rica at the Second World Conference on Solar Cooking, sponsored by SCI. Between sessions, the assembled solar promoters watched hotel televisions and listened to radios as the news turned ever worse, with reports of cholera deaths from unclean water, lack of food, housing, and other services. The event was the impetus for Solar Cookers International to shift from what had been largely an educational and networking role to one of demonstrating in practice that solar cooking had a role to play in keeping people in need alive and well. Shortly before the meeting, the new inexpensive cooking device, the CooKit had been devised by Roger Bernard, French promoter for many years, and then adapted further by Barbara Kerr, the US sage of the movement. Concern for the people of Rwanda was the impetus for planning a new phase in SCIs history, made possible for the first time by the emergence of an inexpensive but efficient cooker.
More recently, a project began in Rwanda in 2003, initiated by local Rotary groups, in concert with Rotary groups from other parts of the world. A team traveled to Rwanda in the summer of 2003, after a long period of planning and consultation, to initiate the project. This project is somewhat unusual in its emphasis on combining the use of solar cooking with the use of hay box and fuel-efficient stoves. This provides the cook with an integrated method - the most efficient "cooking system" feasible at low cost. Wilfred and Marie Pimentel, long time solar cooking promoters, Margaret Owino and Faustine Odaba of the Solar Cookers International East Africa Office (the East Africa Office of Solar Cookers International was closed in 2012) in, Nairobi, Kenya, and, for the first time, a representative of the fuel efficient stove community, Larry Winiarski, aided in the training. While too early to comment on outcomes, the project appears to be off to a good start, and will be periodically evaluated as required by good practice, as well as by the sponsoring Rotary organizations.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
This beautiful tiny country of 8 million where 88% live in abject poverty consume 5,000 tons of fuel wood per day for domestic use (cooking). It is expected that by the year 2020 the populations will double and the wood use will increase to 10,000 tons/day. The government of Rwanda has major planting and reforestation projects with Rotary clubs involved- 5,000 Acacia seedlings were planted by Rotary clubs on one Sunday. Today cutting of trees without permits and firing of kilns with wood is illegal. The Environmental Minister, Drocella Mugorewera, at the opening of the Kigali Solar Cooker workshop quoted the Integrated Cooking Method as one of the best projects for the rural poor and for the protection of the environment. A government committee has been selected to determine the best fuel efficient stoves and fuel wood supplements such as solar cookers with top priorities for study going to the Centre for Research and Technical study located in Kigali.
Rwanda has 6 months of abundant rain. There is a danger of deforestration (Source: Juan Urrutia Sanz, 2010-Feb-15), but see above paragraph regarding prevention of deforestation.
- Discussion of eastern Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
Possible funders for solar cooking projects in Rwanda
- January 2005: Report on Rotary Club activities with solar cooking in Rwanda
- August 2003: Report on integrated cooking project in Rwanda
Articles in the media
- September 2008: Breaking Bread, Rebuilding Lives - San Marcos Daily Record
- July 2008: Govt Sets Its Eyes On Alternative Energy - allAfrica.com
- June 2008: Mininfra - Global Climate Change - How Rwanda Can Benefit From Carbon Credits - The New Times (Kigali)
- May 2008: Baking the Cycle - San Marco Daily Record
- March 2008: Building a better Rwanda - The Fresno Bee
- January 2007: Rotary Club gives solar cookers to Rwandan poor - The Fresno Bee
Audio and video
|March 2007: Wilfred and Marie Pimentel are 80 years old but travel regularly to teach solar cooking in Rwanda. They have a partner in Cally Alles, the director of Sorwathe tea factory. Cally has organized the people into local associations and hosts trainings at the factory. Cooking with the sun is simple but people need convincing. Carboard and aluminum? Just a few hours to cook beans? No stirring and no burning?
It's useless to tell a starving man to grow corn and "Don't cut the trees" won't do a thing for the environment when there's no alternative. Solar cooking is the solution in Central Africa where there's plenty of sun and little firewood. But there's another benefit. In the countryside there are few villages. People live in scattered clay houses miles apart. Solar cooking associations give them a reason to get together. In fact, they were so inspired by Cally's work on their behalf that they wrote a song for him and performed it when we arrived.
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