The Okemos, Michigan (USA) nonprofit organization Solar Circle continues its efforts to make solar cooking an option for women in Tanzania. Solar Circle works with local artisans to manufacture solar box cookers from Cyprus wood, aluminum printing plates, glass, used rubber, and other materials available in Tanzania. However, these cookers cost $70 or more to build, and are heavily subsidized to be affordable. Solar Circle has partnered with engineering students at Michigan State University (MSU) to design lighter, less expensive models that can still be made with local materials. Last year, professor Craig Somerton took nine of the students to Masasi, Tanzania to work with Brother Yohannes Mango and his team of artisans at the Benedictine Abbey in Ndanda. According to the Solar Circle Web site, the “students came armed with sound scientific theories on the behavior of light and heat, and met up with artisans experienced in constructing solar ovens. They worked together to test and improve the ovens. The artisans learned some theory, the students learned some practicalities of building without … power tools and computer enhancements.” The students also spent time teaching the local population how to use the solar cookers. The on-line journal MSU Today International reported that, while the students were in Masasi, professor Brian Thompson spent time in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro working “to make the use of solar ovens a nationwide reality by networking with numerous agencies before formulating a broad initiative” involving businesses, governmental entities, and schools. The Shell foundation, for example, has since funded a solar cooking workshop in Morogoro at Sokoine University. As noted on the Solar Circle Web site, many agency representatives, entrepreneurs and policy makers attended and “gathered to learn about solar cooking and brainstorm best ways to promulgate solar cooking in Tanzania.” A number of solar cookers were on display, including models from South Africa, Holland, and the United States. Contact: Solar Circle, 4709 Woodcraft, Okemos, Michigan 48864, USA. Tel: 517-349-4531, e-mail:, Web:

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