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Solar Cookers International

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Last updated: October 14, 2015      

SCI Annual Report 2014 Highlights. Full Report

National Geographic Video covering work of SCI03:11

National Geographic Video covering work of SCI

National Geographic covers the work of Solar Cookers International

Solar Cookers International (SCI) leads and convenes the global solar cooking sector. SCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-governmental organization that spreads solar cooking awareness and skills worldwide, particularly in areas with plentiful solar energy and diminishing sources of biomass and fossil cooking fuels. SCI alone has enabled 30,000 families in Africa to cook with the sun's energy, freeing women and children from the burdens of gathering wood and carrying it for miles. Tens of thousands of individuals and organization from all over the world have learned about solar cooking through SCI's international programs, education resources, and information exchange network.

  • SCI has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
  • SCI sponsors the Solar Cookers International Network website (this site), an internationally recognized Internet resource for solar cooking information.
  • SCI's Worldwide Office is located in Sacramento, California.

Solar Cookers International continues in 2015 to provide grant funding to current partners with solar cooking programs in Kenya. They are Dinah Chienjo, Friends of the Old (FOTO), and John Amayo with Sustainable Use of Renewable Energy (SURE). The funds allow the distribution of solar cookers, Safe Water Packages, provide training in their use, and a follow-up program to help insure continued use of the new technologies. In August, 2013, SCI began a partnership with the Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST), in Nepal. Like SURE and FOTO, FoST benefits stressed families living in environments that are deforested. The FoST program empowers single mothers and orphanages in Kathmandu and Lalitpur with skills to make and use solar cookers, dry foods with solar cookers, retained-heat cooking, and manufacture of fuels briquettes from biomass wastes to use when the sun isn't shining.

If you would like to promote SCI's global work to introduce solar cooking technology to families around the world to improve health, quality of life, and the environment, please donate and make a difference making a donation on-line or to the postal address below. Interested in buying a solar cooker or cooking accessories? Shop at the SCI marketplace. Your purchase helps fund SCI's programs. The majority of SCI's funding comes from individual donors and environmentally conscious people such as yourself. We will put your contribution to very good use by helping gain a better quality of life for people in communities much less fortunate than yours. Only with your continued support can SCI meet the ever-expanding needs of the worldwide solar cooking community.

See SCI's organizational site for detailed information about SCI.

Most significant solar cooking projects


Refugees from Sudan are trained by Solar Cookers International in the use of their new CooKit solar cookers.

  • A refugee camp in Kenya was the first to receive a large scale solar cooking project - The Kakuma Refugee Camp was formed in 1972 when Sudanese refugees first arrived in Kakuma, Kenya. Introducing solar cooking to the camp was Solar Cookers International’s first large-scale refugee project, beginning in January 1995. Kakuma had considerable refugee turnover, but by 2004, when Solar Cookers International (SCI) concluded the project, the camp had tripled in size to nearly 90,000 refugees. Though rapid growth posed problems for assisting all those who wanted to solar cook, SCI ultimately served over 15,000 families. This project was one of the earliest to use the CooKit solar panel cooker to introduce solar cooking. The program also extended solar cooker technology to schools, especially primary school, through demonstrations, poems, songs and drama.


See Calendar of events

News and recent developments


2015-07-19 12-10-53-2
  • Receive the Solar Cookers International Digest - The digest is an approximately monthly email newsletter with relevant updates regarding the global solar cooking community. It includes feature articles on topical solar cooking issues; grant, employment, and volunteer opportunities; upcoming event information; advocacy efforts at the United Nations, Solar Cookers International Network partners' projects; tech talk, and more.
  • May 2015: SCI accounces an open position:
Director of Communications
The ideal Director of Communications will ensure that Solar Cookers International is viewed as the primary source, disseminator, and conduit of information within this diverse global network and constituent base. Reporting to the Executive Director, and working closely with a senior peer group, the Director of Communications will set and guide the strategy for all communications, website, and public relations messages and collateral to consistently articulate the mission of Solar Cookers International (SCI). This is a full-time, career position for the worldwide office of Solar Cookers International, located in Sacramento, California.
  • April 2015: Solar Cookers International has produced a new video called The Solar Cooking Solution which explores how solar cooking can help minimize deforestation, improve the health of those who cook indoors with traditional cook stoves, and reduce reliance on non-renewable fuels, specifically in developing countries. Watch The Solar Cooking Solution.
SCInet Conference 2014 attendees

Attendees of the SCInet Solar Cooking Convention 2014.

  • April 2014: Afzal Syed wishes to report that he has received Verizon's Employee Environmental Excellence Award, for his volunteer work for starting recycling at Dar Alnoor mosque in Manassas,Virginia, USA, and for voluteering to promote solar cooking. Thanks go out to the congregation at Dar Alnoor, members of Solar Cooking International, Solar Household Energy, STAR TIDES at NDU, and family and friends for their support.
  • March 2014: Pat McArdle was interviewed for the feature story in this month's edition of the TIDES (Transformative Innovation for Development & Emergency Support) newsletter. She describes her role, and that of Solar Cookers International, to introduce solar cooking to, as Pat puts it, "people in sun-rich countries in the developing world who were running out of wood to burn." Solar cooking was unknown in this part of the world at the time. Many of the early projects were started in the late eighties. She also explains how solar cooking is a key component of the practical integrated cooking method. Read the interview...
See older news...



SCI promotes solar cooking and solar water pasteurization worldwide, especially in developing countries where their use can literally save lives. According to the their website, SCI's mission is to assist "communities to use the power of the sun to cook food and pasteurize water for the benefit of people and environments" by focusing in the following areas:

  1. Influencing others in support of solar cooking and water pasteurization/testing.
  2. Developing programs, in partnership with others for the purpose of promoting solar cooking, and water pasteurization and testing. In addition, in parts of Kenya, the focus is to achieve independent spread of solar cooking and water pasteurization/testing.
  3. Facilitating broader access to solar cooking and water pasteurization/testing knowledge, including marketing educational materials and solar products.
  4. Partnering with other relief agencies to assist refugees and disaster relief with solar cooking and water pasteurization/testing training and support.

SCI is paving the way for mass solar cooker acceptance and use through promotion of such products as the CooKit solar cooker and the WAPI water pasteurization indicator; field projects in communities and refugee camps; development and dissemination of education resources; and advocacy with the United Nations and other governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Why solar cookers?

Depending on need and climate, there are many types, sizes and designs of appropriate solar cookers; however, SCI’s simple and effective CooKit is a low-cost cooker that is especially well suited for the developing world since it is made of cardboard and foil which are readily available materials in most communities.
Food versus charcoal

Buy food instead of fuel - Each group of items costs 75 Kenya Shillings (about US$1) as does the pile of charcoal shown. By using a CooKit or other solar cooker, people can buy food instead of fuel.

Solar cooking is beneficial to anyone who lives where there is an abundance of sunshine, and especially where traditional cooking fuels are progressively being depleted. Women in developing countries often walk many miles to collect wood to cook with, or must purchase cooking fuel with meager incomes and/or trade food or goods for cooking fuels. In addition to this physical and monetary stress, women and children who habitually cook inside are subject to severe upper respiratory problems caused by household air pollution from smoky fires. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that women and girls living in refugee camps risk injury, rape and even death when forced to forage for wood outside the compound.

In many cases, fuel wood is too scarce to use to boil water as well as cook with, so people drink water from contaminated water sources, causing millions to get sick and/or die every year from preventable waterborne diseases. An estimated 1.5 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year, resulting in the death of nearly 2 million children. Solar cookers provide a practical method of heating water to the point of pasteurization, requiring only time and the sun to kill the most common waterborne pathogens and making water safe to drink.

When there's no sun

SCI promotes the Integrated Cooking Method, whereby solar cookers are used in conjunction with fuel-efficient stoves and heat retention devices (sometimes called hay baskets) to cook food and pasteurize water with a minimum of fuel. By using the sun when possible, and supplementing with fuel-efficient cooking technologies, fuel wood consumption and subsequent deforestation around the world can be drastically reduced.

Water testing

In addition to the basic fundamentals of solar cooking and water pasteurization that SCI has promoted for years, SCI has developed a revolutionary method of simple scientific water testing that requires no electricity or refrigeration. Most rural areas are unable to adequately test their water because the process of gathering samples and transporting them to a certified laboratory in an urban area is simply too expensive. SCI’s Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) contains laboratory materials small enough to fit in a Ziplock bag, and has already been adopted by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and Water Resources Management Authority. We are working closely with these government institutions to bring accurate and reliable water testing to rural areas that previously had no practical resources available with which to test their water sources.

Solar Cookers International: Mission

SCI focuses on four core areas to promote solar cooking globally:  projects, partnerships, advocacy, and education.


Kajiado04 2007

Women in Kajido, Kenya stand with their CooKit solar cookers.

SCI began the first and largest refugee camp solar cooking project in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Sunny Solutions began in 2003 to introduce and create a market for solar cookers in the Nyakach district, Nyanza province, Kenya. Partnering with Nyakach Community Development Association (NYACODA), SCI demonstrated solar cooking introducing the CooKit solar cooker and the WAPI water pasteurization indicator. During the 5-year program, 80% of the population (113,000 people) were introduced to solar cooking, with 2,593 households purchasing one or more CooKits. SCI was one of several non-governmental organizations introducing solar cooking to the refugees in the Iridimi and Touloum refugee camps in Darfur, a region in Sudan in 2006. The primary goal was to reduce the neccessity of women and children leaving the camps to collect firewood.


SCI has developed an extensive worldwide network of solar cooking partners and helps create connections for collaborative projects and mentoring. In addition to facilitating working partnerships, SCI partners with community-based organizations in different countries to provide solar cookers and water pasteurization tools to people who live where fuel is scarce and sunshine is plentiful--and free.  SCI does not accept unsolicited grant proposals.


SCI builds awareness for solar cooking and solar water pasteurization among policy makers, including closer collaboration with United Nations agencies. SCI was instrumental in the formation of the Solar Cookers International Association later renamed Solar Cookers International Network (SCInet) which is an association of 500+ non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and individuals promoting solar cooking, water pasteurization, and food processing. Promoters in many regions find regionally-specific information and guidance on this SCInet wikia. SCI has hosted regional and international solar cooking conferences, most recently the Solar Cookers International Conference held in Granada Spain in 2006.


SCI's focus on education is evident in the solar cooking and related information available on the Solar Cookers International Network wiki, which SCI sponsors. The wiki includes over 1900 articles categorized by country, manufacturers and vendors, solar cooking basics, and solar cooker designs. The global solar cooking community findsAlso included is information regarding related technologies such as heat-retention cooking; water pasteurizing, solar food processing, solar food drying, solar autoclaving, and solar canning. Classroom resources for teachers are available, free, for teachers around the world.

Also available via the Internet are several key booklets published by SCI to help solar cooking promoters succeed. Our plans booklet, Solar Cookers: How to Make, Use and Enjoy, provides step-by-step construction plans for panel-type and box-type solar cookers. Our field guide, Spreading Solar Cooking, helps promoters plan solar cooking projects. Our trainer’s manual, Teaching Solar Cooking helps solar cooking instructors stay on task and monitor their students’ progress. All three booklets are available for download on the Solar Cookers International Network site, or for sale — along with solar cookers, cookbooks and related supplies on SCI’s web site. Booklets are mailed free of charge to select individuals and groups in developing countries where Internet access is difficult.

SCI digitally produces and distributes the Solar Cookers International Digest which provides important updates and opportunities for the global solar cooking community.

SCI also provides personal responses to over 100 inquires each month.  Over the years, SCI has helped thousands of people answer important questions, find local experts, and access critical resources needed to successfully achieve their solar cooking goals.

If you are interested in starting a solar cooking and/or water pasteurization project, please see promoting solar cooking. You can also connect with people and programs in your own country by visiting our pages about solar cooking in each country. Basic information on solar cooking, frequently-asked questions and instructions on how to build various solar cooker models are also available. Large sections of the Solar Cookers International Network site have been translated into FrenchSpanishCatalan, and Portuguese, and translations of articles can be found in languages as varied as Farsi, Chinese, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Urdu, and Arabic.


See Calendar of events.


Solar Cookers International (SCI), originally called Solar Box Cookers International, was founded in 1987 by 17 solar cooks residing in the sunny Central Valley of California. Among the founders were:

  • Bev Blum: first president and executive director of SCI from 1989-1999 and 2003-2006. She developed a mass-producible, foldable box cooker in 1992, and coordinated the development of the CooKit solar cooker. In 2009 she was the secretariat of the Solar Cookers International Network (now the Solar Cookers International Network, or SCInet).
  • Barbara Kerr: co-developer of the Kerr-Cole solar box cooker built from two nested cardboard boxes. She co-founded the Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center in Taylor, Arizona, USA. She received the "Women in Solar Energy" award from the American Solar Energy Society in July, 2006.
  • Dr. Bob Metcalf: professor of microbiology at California State University at Sacramento and was selected as the 2000-2001 Outstanding Teacher in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He is well known for his work on solar water pasteurization.

SCI produced and distributed manuals describing construction and use of solar box style cookers. SCI advocated for solar cooking to be incorporated into development and relief agency programs. SCI’s role evolved into networking with other solar cooking organizations worldwide, hosting forums for dialogue including co-sponsoring three international solar cooking conferences with the University of the Pacific, USA in 1992; the National University of Costa Rica in 1994; and the Deemed University, Coimbatore, India in 1997.

SCI administered a series of solar cooking field projects. Since 1995, SCI has managed or co-managed solar cooking projects in the Nyakach district, Kenya; in the Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya; in the Aisha refugee camp, Ethiopia; in various communities, Zimbabwe; and in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. See Programs & Projects section above for a description of the Sunny Solutions program in Nyakach, Kenya. For information about refugee camp work in Darfur, Sudan, refer to the refugee camp article.

SCI supported the development of the CooKit, a mass-producible, foldable solar cooker in the 1990s. This simple, panel-style solar cooker remains the most recognized solar cooker in the world.


SCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit non-governmental organization whose Worldwide Office is located in Sacramento, California, USA

Advisory Council


SCI Digest

The Solar Cookers International Digest (SCI Digest) is a digital publication that shares innovations and opportunities to increase success and impact for the global solar cooking community. It is released via email subscription twice a month. Sign up for the SCI Digest here:

Back issues

Solar Cooker Review (Archive)

Back issues

Year Spring Summer Fall / Winter
2014 PDF PDF PDF (Latest Issue)
2012 PDF PDF
2011 PDF PDF

1998 HTML, PDF

SCI Kenya newsletter: suNews

March 2012 update: For almost twenty years, Solar Cookers International has supported branch operations in Kenya. Our field projects have served tens of thousands of families in various East African countries. Due to the overwhelming logistical and financial challenges SCI has encountered in its efforts to effectively manage and restructure an operation 9,000 miles away from its home office in California, the Kenya operations have now been suspended. We are confident that SCI’s many years in that country have educated and inspired individuals and organizations in Kenya to continue with the very important work of spreading the use of solar cookers throughout Eastern Africa.

SuNews July-Dec 06

suNews was published twice a year by Solar Cookers International East Africa Office:

Educational materials from SCI

Annual reports


Articles in the media

Blog posts

Audio and video

Why is SCI Important to You? Pete Schwartz00:18

Why is SCI Important to You? Pete Schwartz

Dr. Pete Schwartz an Associate Professor with the Cal Poly physics department in San Luis Obispo, California, USA, quickly explains why SCI is an important resource for his teaching curriculum.

  • May 2015
The Solar Cooking Solution-008:46

The Solar Cooking Solution-0

Solar cooking is a solution for nearly 3 billion people worldwide who cook over open fires. Some cannot afford to purchase food and fuel, or to make their water safe to drink. This film, created by Solar Cookers International in April 2015, focuses on the solution SCI’s donors make possible with their gifts to support solar cooking worldwide. Learn more at

  • October 2014:
Solar Cooking Festival 201428:01

Solar Cooking Festival 2014

  • September 2014:
Solar Cooking at Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival 201401:22

Solar Cooking at Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival 2014

You can take part in farm-to-fork by not only eating locally, but cooking locally with a solar cooker – an affordable and fun technology you can use any day the sun shines. Solar Cookers International was pleased to take part in the 2014 Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival to share solar cooking.

  • July 2014:
2014 SCInet Convention Keynote14:45

2014 SCInet Convention Keynote

  • July 2014:
Yes We Do Solar Cook04:26

Yes We Do Solar Cook

Participants from around the world at the Solar Cooking Festival, Sacramento, California, USA, July 2014

  • July 2014:
Garvey Financial Products Reducing Risk for Solar Cooking Projects07:16

Garvey Financial Products Reducing Risk for Solar Cooking Projects

  • August 2013:
Solar Cookers International - Harnessing the Sun to Benefit People and the Environment04:16

Solar Cookers International - Harnessing the Sun to Benefit People and the Environment

Solar Cookers International - Harnessing the Sun to Benefit People and the Environment - 2013

  • August 2013:
Allart Ligtenberg39:19

Allart Ligtenberg

Presented at Solar Cookers International's Shine On:2013 event, Allart Ligtenberg explains various solar cooking projects he has been involved with.

  • 2013: Monica Woods, SCI Board Member and News 10 Chief Meteorologist, discusses how a basic solar cooker functions, and the social, environmental, and health benefits of cooking with the sun. Listen to the interview...
  • July 2013: Mendocino County Public Broadcasting interviews Julie Greene, Executive Director of Solar Cookers International about solar cooking strategies, equipment, and the impact of SCI's work in emerging nations. Listen to the program...
  • December 2012:
Harnessing the Sun to Improve Health and Environments Julie Greene at TEDxGrassValley15:18

Harnessing the Sun to Improve Health and Environments Julie Greene at TEDxGrassValley

  • April 2011:
Solar Cookers International05:13

Solar Cookers International

Providing better access to pasteurized water in developing countries.

Tusk Trust Documentary - 13 Solar Energy05:50

Tusk Trust Documentary - 13 Solar Energy

Tusk Trust documentary of introducing the CooKit in Kenya in 2008.

  • October 2007: Suncookers - A DVD showing the work of Solar Cookers International in Kenya

Become a supporter of SCI

Donors to Solar Cookers International save lives and change lives.

We work to solve the problem of inadequate household energy facing nearly 3 billion people on our planet.  Since human health, quality of life, and environments are affected by cooking fuel choices, we offer a solution to the difficult choices nearly half of all families make every day: whether to buy fuel, or to buy food and other family needs.  The sun’s free energy is a viable solution for all who live where the sun shines.

Early in its history, Solar Cookers International identified an urgent need for refugees and villagers in Africa to cook and pasteurize water, and SCI designed a panel solar cooker, the CooKit, to meet this need.  Today, we work with partners globally to address health and energy needs in a variety of sensitive populations and environments.  Solar Cookers International provides information and connects you to the partnerships you need to bring simple, effective and appropriate solar thermal cooking technology to people who are interested in changing their lives by changing their cooking tools.

There are many ways to become involved with SCI.  One method is to make a donation to help bring solar cooking to the people who need this technology the most.  Another way to help is to become a solar cook and help others learn about the benefits of solar cooking, too. The SCI website lists many ways you can get involved in community and international solar cooking efforts.

Donating to SCI


Solar Cookers International
1919 21st Street, Suite 203
Sacramento, California 95811-6827

Tel: +(1) 916-455-4499
Fax: +(1) 916-455-4498


Organizational website:

Make a donation.

US Tax Exemption ID: 68-0153141

See also

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