In 2008 Solar Cookers International (SCI) began the Safe Water Project in Kenya led by SCI founder and board president Dr. Bob Metcalf, a professor of Biological Sciences at California State University, Sacramento. Bob’s development of a Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) will allow rural health workers and community members to test water quality in the field by assessing levels of Escherichia coli contamination. The revolutionary PML can be used anywhere by practically anyone, and it will liberate government ministries in charge of water analysis who have had difficulties gauging water quality in rural areas due to travel limitations and technical expenses. Anticipated outcomes from the project include significant reductions in the incidence of waterborne diseases in over 20 communities, and broader community awareness of simple and effective water testing and water pasteurization techniques. A training was begun in June 2008 with officials and representatives from the Kenya Water Resources Management Authority and the Kenya Ministry of Health. This is the first time that these two government ministries have collaborated on a project like this, and we are thrilled to have their participation and support. Major funding for this program has come from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, for which we are very grateful!
News and recent developments
- September 2008: A photo blog of this project is now available.
- August 2008: Kenya safe water project ramps up - Solar Cooker Review
- November 2007: International Program Development, Kenya Report by Karyn Ellis, SCI Director of International Program Development
- Recommend expansion of project development to two new countries
- Completion of Safe Water Workshop in Kenya
- Provide support to the Solar Cookers International East Africa Office
- Identify potential collaborators within existing environmental NGO’s and government ministries in East Africa
- Increased humanitarian liaisons with emergency organizations
Further development of identified potential projects in Tanzania and Uganda, Benin and West Africa
Written by Karyn Ellis, Director of International Program Development at SCI.
- Tanzania: I have been in close collaboration with a newly founded local nonprofit called TanzSolar in Auburn, Ca. TanzSolar has been developed by Marianne Walpert, who has an impressive solar background as an Executive at Photovoltaics International and RWE Schott Solar, Founder and President of Pacific Solar Company Inc., and Vice President of PV company Pacific Power Management. TanzSolar’s main objective is to provide affordable solar panels for lighting and internet power to the villages around Musoma, TZ, where an old colleague of hers owns a well established rural internet company. TanzSolar will also incorporate affordable simple solar powered lanterns to their promotion of solar technology in Tanzania, and is excited to explore the possibility of expanding into solar cooking and water pasteurization. Marianne was able to secure housing for TanzSolar on her last trip to Musoma and has graciously offered to share the facility with SCI, for storage of CooKits and materials and a shared base for project headquarters. Both Marianne and I are excited about the possibilities that this collaboration can provide, and we are serious about making a shared project a reality in the near future. I will be meeting with Marianne again in the next few weeks to discuss plans and budget. I plan to visit Musoma in Tanzania during my East Africa trip this summer planned for June / July, and will be working with Michael to secure grant funding to support the expansion of this exciting new project.
- Uganda: I see potential from a small project that originated with a young man in Ohio, who won his Science Class project with a CooKit. Max Ozimek is a passionate young man who wants to help his priest in Ohio by providing solar cookers to his home village of Obia, Uganda. Father Alexander Inke is excited about the possibilities that this project might provide the people of his village, and he is working closely with Max and Max’s mother, Mary Lou, to obtain funding and establish the connections necessary to establish an effective and sustainable project. I have been impressed by the initiative taken by these individuals and will visit the project site in Obia this summer, participating in a five day solar cooking and water pasteurization training with Kawesa Mukasa and his staff, who are long time SCI contacts and solar entrepreneurs in Uganda with the Solar Connect Association.
- Benin: SCI was recently introduced to a gentleman from Benin who is a Humphrey Fellow at UC Davis and is working for a colleague in the area. Gabriel Kpadonou works for the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Benin and is co-founder of the NGO the Environmental Engineering Group involved in health and hygiene education and developing solutions to environmental problems. Gabriel works for the Sanitation and Public Hygiene Department of the MOH, which works closely with the Water Resources Management Authority ~ the two branches of government that Bob Metcalf and SCI are working with in Kenya to get the Safe Water Project underway. Gabriel is enthusiastic and dedicated to bringing solar cooking, water pasteurization and rural water treatment to the government ministries and affiliated NGO’s in Benin. Gabriel’s enthusiasm and connections give this project high potential at low risk. I look forward to pursuing this possibility and working with Gabriel in the future.
- West Africa: West Africa holds a place dear to my heart, which I already know is an ideal location for solar cooking projects due to sitting in its unforgiving sun for two years watching women walk by with wood on their heads (which was my inspiration to enter the solar field). In addition to the potential project in Benin listed above, I still have connections in West Africa from when I served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso from ’97 – ’99. I have a former colleague who now works in Senegal for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) who might be interested in integrating solar cookers into their disaster relief and preparedness programs. I have been in contact with the Vice President of the NGO Love in Motion/Global who would like to incorporate solar cookers into the sustainable village they are creating in Liberia later this year. And I recently met with Freedom From Hunger in Davis who expressed an interest in involving SCI in their village-based MicroBusiness for Health program, involving educational and health-oriented self-help projects for women’s groups in Ghana. It is my opinion that West Africa is a sensible target for future programs, and I have some interesting and solid leads that I intend to seriously pursue in the near future.
Planning, execution and expansion of Safe Water Project in Kenya and beyond
I have had the pleasure of working with the ever optimistic and uber-motivated Bob Metcalf on the development and progression of the Safe Water Project that SCI initiated in Kenya in November of last year. During my inaugural visit to Kenya in October / November of last year, I had the privilege of accompanying Bob to a number of meetings with the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and representatives from the Ministry of Health (MOH). It was inspiring to witness the level of enthusiasm amongst those involved in potential program planning for this exciting project, and I believe we have some solid and dedicated Kenyans ready to work with us in this project.
During my next trip to Kenya this summer, I will assist Bob in executing the Water Testing Workshop in Nairobi (intended to be held in Kisumu in January of this year but postponed due to political strife in Kenya). Our mission is to train 40 individuals, 20 each from the two government ministries (MOH & WRMA) who will then go on to train others in their respective districts, creating a trickle down effect that will eventually reach the most rural levels of ministry and health work. It is expected that the result of this project will be a new process of accurately testing water in rural areas that don’t currently have access to expensive and sophisticated laboratory materials. This process will enable rural health workers to identify which water is good to drink and which requires treatment, allowing water treatment processes to progress without a doubt as to it necessity, and hopefully inspiring more environmental health education to those in the bush.
It is my intention, when visiting other countries and establishing new projects, to seek out officials in NGO’s and government heath ministries to inform them of the water testing work we’re doing in Kenya, in addition to solar cooking and water pasteurization.
As a supplement to the water testing workshop we have planned the last week in June, SCI has been contacted by a group of women putting on the African Women and Water Conference at the Greenbelt Training Center in Nairobi the first week in July. This conference will train a group of 30 women from East, West and South Africa, who will then take this knowledge back to their countries and the environmental institutions where they work. Our participation in this conference could be a foot in the door for potential water projects in the participating countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa. In addition, The African Women and Water Conference will be held at the Greenbelt Training Center, which was established by Wangaari Mathai, noble-prize winner and environmental and political activist in Kenya that we have been trying to get on our side for years. We have heard she might be coming around, and this conference could very well provide a connection to Ms Mathai that up to now we have lacked. Let’s hear it for networking!
Assist EARO on Sunny Solutions Evaluation and development of Resource Center
I am committed to promoting and supporting the work that the East Africa Regional Office is doing in Kenya, which I have attempted to do while giving EARO the room to breathe that it has become accustomed to. An official evaluation of the Sunny Solutions program developed over four years ago in the Nyakach region is underway, and will provide valuable materials and insight as to the successes and challenges that were experienced over the course of the Sunny Solutions project. From this side of the pond, I have done extensive research on evaluation methodologies and procedures and made sure that these materials were available to the EARO staff in preparation for this process.
While the Sunny Solutions project will be missed, it could provide a model for future projects, and will ultimately open the path for a big dream on the part of the East Africa staff ~ the first Solar Resource Center to be established in the East Africa region. Kisumu was chosen as the tentative location of the Resource Center due to its location near Lake Victoria which is a hub for northern Kenya and neighboring countries. Following the completion of the Sunny Solutions Evaluation, plans for development of the Resource Center will begin. It is my intention to assist in this process as much as possible from afar, and to discuss EARO’s needs while in country this summer.
Establish contact and collaborations with fellow environmental NGO’s
The Integrated Development process is one that I believe will benefit not only the communities, environments and individuals that we strive to assist, but will help to further the visibility and effectiveness of both SCI and the organizations that we are able to partner with in the field. (For those who don’t know, Integrated Development refers to the promotion of related appropriate technologies and environmental programs, in addition to and as supplement to our own). The more organizations we are able to work together with in regards to project planning and implementation, the more people in the world we will be able to reach. I am always in the process of reaching out to organizations that I believe would benefit as much from our contribution as we would from theirs. Below I have listed some of the individuals and organizations that I will attempt to make appointments with while I am in East Africa this summer in an effort to form collaborative support for projects.
Peace Corps ~ Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda Freedom From Hunger ~ Uganda Action Against Hunger ~ Kenya & Uganda ActionAid International ~ Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania Friends of the World Food Program ~ Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania UNICEF ~ Uganda & Tanzania The Hunger Project ~ Uganda World Vision ~ Uganda & Tanzania Stop Hunger Now ~ Kenya PATH ~ Kenya & Tanzania Plan USA ~ Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania SEVA Foundation ~ Tanzania Direct Relief International ~ Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania International Center for Research on Women ~ Kenya & Uganda Businge Annet ~ Uganda Rural Dev. & Trng Program Mr. Patrick N. Wasike ~ Somuc Agricultural Consultants, Mbarara, Uganda Golooba Lawrence ~ Uganda Seed Project William Swella ~ Swenap Renewable Energy Tech Sys, Mafinga, TZ Ruth Shija ~ Solar Innovations of Tanzania Sperancea K. Gabone ~ Macedonia Ministries International inTZ
Expand humanitarian outreach to National Emergency Organizations
SCI is attempting to enhance its humanitarian outreach approach by increasing contact with disaster preparedness organizations. In conjunction with the efforts of the Executive Director, I am endeavoring to contact national emergency organizations overseas such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, CONCERN Worldwide and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction during my project planning and preparations for travel.
- Solar Cookers International
- Water pasteurization
- October/November 2008: *World Health Organization's Request for Proposal
- August 2008: Kenya safe water project ramps up - Solar Cooker Review