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Last updated: 16 August 2017      
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Monica Woods, Solar Cookers International-002:53

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Solar Cookers International All About Access02:02

Solar Cookers International All About Access

Household air pollution: causes and solutions

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Read SCI's Annual Report for 2015

Solar Cookers International (SCI) leads global efforts to promote solar cooking. No-emission solar cookers make no-emission, free solar energy accessible worldwide for cooking and water pasteurization. By spreading solar cooking knowledge and awareness through its international network, SCI helps achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Tens of thousands of individuals and organization from all over the world have learned about solar cooking through SCI's advocacy, leadership, education resources, and information exchange network. SCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-governmental organization supporting the work of more than 500 partner individuals and organizations in 133 countries.

  • SCI has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • SCI sponsors the Solar Cookers International Network wiki (this site), an internationally recognized resource for solar cooking information.
  • SCI publishes the bi-weekly digital SCI Digest announcing solar cooking developments and key events throughout the world.
  • SCI won an Ashden Award in 2002 for their work with solar cookers in Kenya. In August 2006, SCI was the winner of the World Renewable Energy Award[1].
  • SCI's Worldwide Office is located in Sacramento, California (Map).

In addition to its advocacy, leadership, research, and networking activities, SCI provides grant funding to pilot projects that focus on innovative processes that scale up solar cooking technologies in the regions of the world where the human and environmental needs are greatest.

Solar Cookers International is spearheading the solar cooker performance evaluation process. Evaluation of the performance, user experience, and quality of solar cookers was identified as a high priority by the attendees of the 5th SCI World Conference in Sacramento, California, USA 2014. The process and instrumentation will be presented and demonstrated at the 6th SCI World Conference in Gujarat, India January 2017.

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 make a donation on-line or to the postal address below. The majority of SCI's funding comes from individual donors and foundations supporting social impact and environmental sustainability.

See SCI's website for detailed information.


See Calendar of events

Employment opportunities

  • NEW: August 2017: All positions are located at SCI's offices in Sacramento, California, USA. More information on the positions listed below:
    • Public Relations Officer (Open until filled)
    • Development Associate (Open until filled)
    • Program Associate (Open until filled)

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.



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 SCI 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 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.

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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

See also

External links


Solar Cookers International (Map)
2400 22nd St Ste 210
Sacramento, CA 95818-2540


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


Organizational website:

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US Tax Exemption ID: 68-0153141



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