November 2009

Volume 15, Number 3

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Workshop participants solar-bake bread in Ethiopia

News you send

[Editor's note: E-mail your news items to or via postal mail to Kevin Porter, Solar Cookers International, 1919 21st Street #101, Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA. We want to hear from you — especially if your program is growing or if your work has not been featured in the Solar Cooker Review before. Please include your contact information. Submissions are subject to editing if printed.]


The Ethiopia / Netherlands

Workshop participants successfully solar-bake bread in Ethiopia
Workshop participants successfully solar-bake bread in Ethiopia
Initial pioneering work by Ato Guillilat, executive director of Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Development Association, led in 2007 to a small-scale integrated solar cooking pilot project with Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands (SCN) in villages around Debre Zeit. According to SCN Chairwoman Clara Thomas, initial results were promising. In 2008, plans were developed for a regional production and promotion center for integrated solar cooking and water pasteurization. The center, which opened in March 2009, includes space for training, assembly, sales, and cooking demonstrations.
Food continues to cook after a pot is removed from the heat source when placed in well-insulated retained heat devices, a component of the integrated solar cooking method]
Food continues to cook after a pot is removed from the heat source when placed in well-insulated retained heat devices, a component of the integrated solar cooking method
In the pilot project, approximately 1,500 households across four villages have adopted integrated solar cooking methods, maximizing their cooking fuel savings by using solar CooKits whenever possible, fuel-efficient stoves (based on a design by GTZ) when necessary, and retained heat devices to continue cooking after food is removed from either heat source.Janny Poley, first secretary for environment and water for the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa, was impressed by the project and introduced it to Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Centre and Network (HOAREC/N) at Addis Ababa University. Under Poley’s leadership, HOAREC/N held an integrated solar cooking workshop in March 2009 with participants from Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Somaliland, Puntland, Djibouti and the Netherlands. Solar Cookers International’s Margaret Owino was among the key speakers. With technical support from SCN and KoZon Foundation, HOAREC/N will plan and coordinate an ambitious 3-year program to spread integrated solar cooking and solar water pasteurization in the region. Clusters will be created to benefit three districts in Ethiopia and communities in Djibouti, Puntland, and Somaliland. Clusters for people with physical and visual challenges, as well as institutions, research and development agencies, and the health sector, will be formed.Ultimately, each cluster will have a production and promotion center, a project manager and a female master trainer. Field trainers will be selected by master trainers, who will teach them promotion, monitoring, and evaluation skills and help them lead monthly collective cooking meetings. Contact: Clara Thomas or Arnold Leufkens, Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands, Prof. van Reeslaan 11, 1261 CS Blaricum, Netherlands. Tel: +31 (0)35 5311903, fax: +31 (0)35 5318966, e-mail:, Web:; Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Centre and Network, Web:

Ghana / United States

It all started with a 20-minute cross-town taxi ride. Steven Watson, a resident of New York City, and Frank Otchere, a resident of New Jersey (USA) and Osiem, Ghana, met in early 2003 in Otchere’s taxi. Watson, a cultural historian and psychologist, likes to learn from conversations with taxi drivers. He also, as it happens, has an interest in solar cooking. Otchere is the “Nkosuahene” of his village, the chief in charge of development. In just a few short years, Watson and Otchere have organized medicine contributions for Osiem, built the first public toilets, and established what Watson calls “the best library in the region.” Now they are working to bring simple solar cooking technology and know-how to the community. After initial failed attempts at building a solar cooker, Otchere went to Washington D.C. to learn from Solar Household Energy. Louise Meyer and Darwin Curtis gave him some pointers, and Otchere was then able to successfully construct and use a solar CooKit in Ghana. He chose the CooKit because it could be made inexpensively from aluminum foil and recycled cardboard and required only a blackened cooking pot and a transparent plastic bag. Otchere repeatedly demonstrated the CooKit’s performance by preparing and serving local foods — rice, plantains, yams, and palm nuts — to his neighbors each day for lunch. The two questions he received most were “Will I get sick if I eat this?” and “Is this magic?” Otchere responded “no” to the former, and told them that food cooks by the “magic of the sun.”

Osiem's "Solar House"
Osiem's "Solar House"
 According to Watson, “the people in Osiem are convinced that solar cookers work; they have seen it and they have eaten the food from CooKit.” Over 60 solar cookers have already been built by villagers, and are being sold for about $5 each. “Even though they understand that it will be economical and helpful over time,” writes Watson, “it is still difficult for villagers to afford the CooKit.” Otchere and Watson believe that solar cookers should not be given away free of charge. They are exploring solutions to this problem. One suggestion is to generate more local income by building CooKits in Osiem and offer them for sale, along with training, in larger towns and cities like Accra and Kofuridua. Another idea is to offer solar cookers in exchange for work done in the local community. Otchere has met with Dr. Mercy Bannerman, who has worked for several years to reduce guinea worm infections and other waterborne pathogens in Ghana through the use of solar water pasteurization (see the April 2005 Solar Cooker Review article “Solar cookers: a tool for guinea worm prevention”). Otchere and Bannerman agreed to cooperate in promotion of solar cooking in Ghana — Bannerman focused in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions; Otchere in the Eastern, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions. Contact Steven Watson by e-mail:


Koshoni says cone-shaped solar cookers are well-suited for Nigerians with balconies
Koshoni says cone-shaped solar cookers are well suited for Nigerians with balconies
Last year, Margaret Koshoni presented a solar cooking seminar in Lagos. The seminar was arranged by the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club, of which Koshoni is the secretary. A standing-room only crowd of nearly 400 representatives from government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, schools, and even a few banks, attended. Prior to the event, Koshoni and her colleagues made over 1,000 solar CooKits and “cone cookers.” Koshoni says that cone-shaped solar cookers are well suited for many Nigerian women that have balconies because the cookers are elevated on a stand above shadows created by balcony railings. The cookers are also easy to move without disturbing the food. Five cone cookers and three CooKits were used to demonstrate solar cooking to the crowd. Beans, meat stews, fish stews, vegetable soup, yams, eggs, and two types of rice were all prepared and sampled. The cone cookers cost about $25 to construct using Mylar® reflector material and water-resistant plastic sheet covering for the back. With financial support from local banks and businesses, each school was given five cone cookers and one CooKit free of charge, along with a copy of Solar Cookers International’s plans booklet. Most of the other attendees received one complimentary cone cooker, while solar CooKits were available for purchase for about $15. Koshoni also made and distributed cloth bags for solar cooker transport and storage. The Lagos State Government’s Commissioner for Women Affairs encouraged Koshoni to arrange future workshops for all Lagos State Local Government Areas. Contact Margaret Koshoni by e-mail:






Ogawa Crown Company has begun manufacturing small, portable parabolic solar cookers that fold up in a similar fashion to an umbrella. The 1-meter diameter reflective shell of the “Sunny Cooker” is made from a unique aluminum-coated polyester cloth, structurally supported from the center and along the outer edge by flexible plastic poles. This lightweight shell essentially hangs from a metal pot stand that sits atop a foldable tripod and is fixed to the shell at two points. The central pole of the tripod connects to the pot stand through a zipper in the shell. The vertical angle of the reflector is adjustable by zipping or unzipping the shell to the appropriate distance and literally locking the zipper in place with a key. The Sunny Cooker sells for approximately $350, weighs about 3.5 kilograms, and comes with an iron kettle. A sample of the Sunny Cooker was kindly provided to Solar Cookers International by the Japan Solar Energy Educational Association. SCI Staff and board members have experimented with the cooker and have successfully boiled water and cooked popcorn. The device has been shown at multiple events, including demonstrations at Google’s international headquarters in Mountain View, California, and at National Defense University and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. To order a Sunny Cooker at a discounted price, contact Iseko Shirai, Japan Solar Energy Education Association, 2-42-30 Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, 167-0051 Tokyo, Japan. Tel/fax: 03-5347-1508, e-mail:, Web: For more information on the Sunny Cooker, visit: (Japanese) or (English).


United States

Goodman's solar cooker can be built in two pieces: a weighted middle section that holds the HotPot and the four-sided reflector that surrounds it
Goodman's solar cooker can be built in two pieces: a weighted middle section that holds the HotPot and the four-sided reflector that surrounds it

Over the past several years, research architect Joel Goodman has conceptualized a number of interesting ways to incorporate solar cookers into buildings, outdoor furniture, and other public and private spaces. His recent work has focused on reflector designs for use with Solar Household Energy’s HotPot™ — a custom black metal pot suspended inside a transparent glass bowl that creates an insulating air space around the pot.

Clockwise (from left): a raised cart with integrated solar cooker and two additional reflectors; a series of thee solar cookers receive additional sunlight from a 'one-sided' CPC reflector built into the side of a building and an additional reflector at one end; an outdoor bench seat with built in 'one-sided CPC reflector on the reverse side for additional cooking power
Clockwise (from left): a raised cart with integrated solar cooker and two additional reflectors; a series of three solar cookers receive additional sunlight from a 'one-sided' CPC reflector built into the side of a building and an additional reflector at one end; an outdoor bench seat with built-in 'one sided' CPC reflector on the reverse side for additional cooking power 
Goodman’s latest idea consists of a modular solar cooker that could be used independently or in conjunction with additional reflectors. The basic four-sided solar cooker uses principles of non-imaging CPC (compound parabolic concentrator) optics to control the distribution of light and maximize the amount of sunlight that hits the black surfaces under the HotPot. A cross section of the cooker’s reflectors looks like a rounded “w” with the cooking vessel resting on the middle hump at a height somewhat lower than the end points. Goodman says the solar cooker could be built in two parts, so that a weighted middle section holds the HotPot while the surrounding reflectors could be removed and used at night to amplify indoor lighting. For user comfort, Goodman suggests that a raised cart could be built to house the basic reflector unit and support additional reflectors. Cooking power also could be boosted by utilizing Goodman’s concept for ‘one-sided’ CPC reflectors that are part of exterior building walls or outdoor furniture. He envisions one or more solar cookers pushed up against one of these walls, which in turn direct additional sunlight onto the pot. Goodman invites comments and suggestions. Contact: Joel H. Goodman, P.O. Box 14, Dodgeville, Wisconsin 53533, USA. E-mail:, Web: and

Black carbon from cooking fires linked to global warming; solar cookers offer immediate relief

by Kevin Porter, SCI director of education resources

“We see … women cooking meals over solar-powered stoves that produce less black carbon and soot. We see the cutting down of pollution and respiratory disease, and saving women from long trips to collect firewood, and save diminishing forests.”

— U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

New research by leading atmospheric scientists indicates that black carbon in soot — a byproduct of incomplete combustion — is responsible for an estimated 18 percent of global warming, second only to carbon dioxide’s 40 percent. Studies show that anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of all black carbon emissions come from the burning of biomass — including man-made fires for industrial and household energy uses like cooking, as well as naturally occurring forest fires. The remainder comes mostly from the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel.

“Cleaner options for the man-made activities exist,” says Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California, USA, and Jessica Seddon Wallack, director of the Center for Development Finance at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, India. “The greenest options for households are stoves powered by the sun or by gas from organic waste.”

Widespread use of clean, affordable solar cookers (foreground) would help mitigate global warming and preserve glaciers (background) 
Widespread use of clean, affordable solar cookers (foreground) would help mitigate global warming and preserve glaciers (background) 

Black carbon contributes to global warming by absorbing solar radiation. Writing in the New York Times, reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal describes black carbon as “tiny heat-absorbing black sweaters” that “melt ice by absorbing the sun’s heat when they settle on glaciers.” Expanding upon this description, Geoffrey Lean, environment editor for The Independent, explains that black carbon “is spread around the globe by the wind, and helps to heat the atmosphere by absorbing and releasing solar radiation. When it falls … it darkens snow and ice, at the poles or high in mountains,” thus reducing the ability of snow and ice to reflect sunlight. Snow and ice “melt more quickly, and expose more dark land or water that absorbs even more energy … and increases warming.”

Global warming isn’t the only problem caused by soot. Millions of people are suffering debilitating, even deadly illnesses from black carbon exposure. Andrew Revkin, reporter for the New York Times, states that the climate impact from cooking with firewood and dried dung, “the norm for about 2 billion people … pales beside the direct impact on the lives of the people — mainly women and their children — who spend a significant portion of the day gathering the fuels or breathing the smoke.” According to the nongovernmental organization Practical Action (formerly Intermediate Technology Development Group), soot from indoor cook stoves is the fourth-leading cause of premature death in the developing world.

Soot contains “up to 40 different cancer-causing chemicals, and can also cause respiratory and heart diseases,” writes Lean. “It is estimated to cause two million deaths in the developing world each year — mainly among children — when emitted from wood-burning stoves in poorly ventilated houses.”

Legislation under consideration in the U.S. Congress seeks to bring soot-free cooking to 20 million families worldwide
Legislation under consideration in the U.S. Congress seeks to bring soot-free cooking to 20 million families worldwide

Researchers generally agree that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the most important long-term step in combating global warming. However, widespread use of solar cookers and other soot-reducing technologies can perhaps have the most immediate impact on the health of people and the planet. “Reducing black carbon is one of a number of relatively quick and simple climate fixes using existing technologies — often called ‘low hanging fruit’ — that scientists say should be plucked immediately to avert the worst projected consequences of global warming,” writes Rosenthal. “Better still, decreasing soot could have a rapid effect. Unlike carbon dioxide, which lingers in the atmosphere for years, soot stays there for a few weeks.” Rosenthal continues, “In Asia and Africa, cook stoves produce the bulk of black carbon. … Converting to low-soot cook stoves would remove the warming effects of black carbon quickly, while shutting a coal plant takes years to substantially reduce global carbon dioxide concentrations.”

Studies by Ramanathan show that “emissions from China and India alone account for approximately 25 to 35 percent of global black carbon.” He predicts that broad use of solar cookers and other soot-free stoves would reduce black carbon’s heating effect on the earth by 70 to 80 percent over South Asia, and 20 to 40 percent over East Asia.

The United States and many other developed nations have taken steps over the years to greatly reduce domestic black carbon emissions through a variety of regulations and access to cleaner-burning technologies. The U.S. Congress is considering legislation to further mitigate the effects of black carbon emissions in the U.S. and throughout the world. House bill 1760, the Black Carbon Emissions Reduction Act of 2009, is currently being considered by several committees. The bill would not only study ways to further limit black carbon emissions in the U.S., but would also identify key regions of the world for implementation of large-scale efforts to bring “clean, efficient, safe, and affordable” cooking technologies like solar cookers “to 20 million homes over a 5-year period.”

Sunny Solutions surpasses goals, cookers now available through marketplace

by Kevin Porter, SCI director of education resources

“I use solar energy to cook food and heat drinking water to [pasteurization] temperatures. My charcoal, firewood and gas are saved for use when it is dark or rainy. I can run an errand or do laundry while our meals cook. Cooking beans and stews is easy now. I cough less and my eyes don’t water like they used to. I bought my solar cooker from my cousin who received special training so she could make money from selling CooKits.”

— Elizabeth, Sunny Solutions participant

In the summer of 2003, Solar Cookers International (SCI) launched an ambitious project called Sunny Solutions to increase market-based solar cooker access in Nyakach, Kenya, an impoverished agricultural and fishing community devastated by environmental degradation, waterborne illnesses, and high incidence of HIV/AIDS. Over the next five years, more than 2,500 women like Elizabeth purchased simple solar cookers and improved their lives with free, clean solar energy. An independent project evaluation conducted in June 2008 by Archway Technology Management Limited found widespread awareness and use of solar cookers and solar water pasteurization in Nyakach, resulting in a dramatic reduction of respiratory and waterborne diseases.

Goals and objectives

Over the years, SCI has implemented projects in several refugee camps where solar cookers were distributed at little or no cost to beneficiaries. In settled communities like Nyakach, however, long-term spread of solar cookers typically requires commercial approaches. The goal of the Sunny Solutions project was to create a viable market for solar cookers and related supplies sold through small businesses run by local women.

The core objectives of the project were to:

  • Introduce and spread solar cooking to 100,000 people
  • Promote solar water pasteurization to 15,000 people
  • Foster links with other common groups and agencies to ensure broad access to solar cooking technology
  • Enable commercialization of solar cooking supplies through support of entrepreneurs selling 3,000 total CooKits


SCI used a three-stage approach to solar cooker dissemination in Nyakach: introduce solar cooking and water pasteurization to local opinion leaders, recruit and train enthusiastic women as solar cooker representatives, and assist these representatives in promotion of the CooKit, leading to microenterprises that provide sales and after-sales services.

In partnership with the Nyakach Community Development Association (NYACODA), SCI conducted solar cooking and water pasteurization demonstrations targeting chiefs and other government officers, leaders of women’s groups, health professionals and representatives of development agencies. Several dozen solar CooKits were made available for home trials by a select group of very keen women from each demonstration. These women were visited at home or during weekly group meetings.

Women with outgoing personalities who used CooKits frequently, were particularly enthusiastic about solar cooking, or had prior sales experience were invited to train as solar cooker representatives (SCOREPS). Initial training consisted of a four-day intensive course on solar cooking and business skills, including microfinance, communications, and marketing, followed by occasional sessions on more advanced topics.

SCOREPS conducted numerous trainings throughout Nyakach, raising awareness of clean cooking technologies with earning income from the sale of solar CooKits
SCOREPS conducted numerous trainings throughout Nyakach, raising awareness of clean cooking technologies while earning income from the sale of solar CooKits
SCI partnered with the SCOREPS to develop marketing strategies appropriate for local conditions. SCI provided basic marketing materials like flyers explaining the economic and health benefits of solar cooker use, regional newsletters featuring solar cooker promotion in eastern Africa, and signboards for use at markets, along highways, etc. Distinctive aprons, shirts and bags increased SCOREPS’ visibility and credibility. Direct marketing was reinforced by SCI-sponsored public service announcements on local radio programs.

Once trained, the entrepreneurial women conducted product demonstrations at marketplaces, churches, and other public venues, creating widespread awareness of — and desire for — solar cooking and solar water pasteurization. SCOREPS were then able to generate income by making and selling solar cookers, ensuring decentralized access to inexpensive solar CooKits and related supplies.

To help guarantee broadest access to solar cookers, SCI worked with a total of 247 churches, schools and women’s groups, some of which were formed to purchase CooKits for each other in a merry-go-round fashion.

Each solar cooking kit, comprised of a solar CooKit, several transparent cooking bags, and a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI), sold for approximately $6, resulting in a profit of about $1.25 for the entrepreneurs. Additionally, SCOREPS earned commissions from SCI for certain public demonstrations and up to three follow-up visits to each new solar cook. These home visits provided an opportunity for SCOREPS to answer questions, reinforce basic cooking skills, resupply cooking bags, and gather feedback.

Innovations and awards

The award winning OWYA CooKit, made locally by SCOREPS, increases income opportunities for women while lowering prices for consumers
The award winning OWYA CooKit, made locally SCOREPS, increases income opportunities for women while lowering prices for consumers

The “OYWA” CooKit, developed and assembled for Sunny Solutions by Nyakach women, is more affordable and more durable than factory-built models. The OYWA, and the women that developed it, received a top award at the 2005 Pan-African Women Invent and Innovate awards ceremony. Organized by the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network, these awards are considered the world’s leading accolade for women inventors and innovators.

In 2006, SCI was honored at the IX World Renewable Energy Congress for its pioneering work promoting solar cookers in Africa. “You have been selected for this award because of your dedication to promoting renewable energy in Africa,” wrote Scott Haapala, award committee program officer, in notifying SCI of the award. “Helping the people of Africa move away from a dependence on firewood towards using renewable energy is helping to protect their environment and increasing the quality of women’s lives.”

SCI’s eastern Africa director, Margaret Owino, received the first ever International Net Forward Energy Award at the 3rd biennial Partnership for Clean Indoor Air forum in 2007. The award honors those who improve peoples’ health, livelihood, and quality of life by reducing indoor air pollution.

SCI was also awarded the national 2007 Energy Globe award for its Sunny Solutions project in Kenya. This prestigious award showcases sustainable projects that demonstrate “good, feasible solutions” to existing environmental problems.


The independent Sunny Solutions project evaluation concluded that all core objectives were met.

Approximately 113,000 people (80 percent of the community) learned about solar cooking through promotional campaigns and demonstrations, resulting in sales of 3,154 solar CooKits to 2,593 households, each of which also received a WAPI and safe water instruction. Eighty-eight households purchased two or more CooKits.

In solar cooking households, less time is spent by girls gathering firewood
In solar cooking households, less time is spent by girls gathering firewood
Of the households that purchased solar cookers, 85 percent reported using CooKits very often or often, while 11 percent used them rarely and 2 percent never. A majority of those households, 53 percent, used CooKits for pasteurizing water, while cakes, vegetables, and meats were commonly prepared with solar cookers in 79 percent, 42 percent and 34 percent of households respectively. Solar cookers were rarely used to cook Ugali, a local staple made from corn meal.

A fuel expenditure study of 12 households over a period of 15 days found that non-solar cooking households spent an average of 8.35 Kenya shillings per meal on cooking fuel (wood, charcoal and/or paraffin), while the households that supplemented cooking fuels with solar cookers spent 4.45 Kenya shillings, a savings of 47 percent. Less time is spent by women and children — especially girls — gathering firewood, leading to increased productivity in farming, businesses, and schools.

Survey respondents were unanimous in citing health benefits from reduced exposure to cooking smoke. These benefits included healthier throats, lungs, and eyes reported by 70 to 85 percent of households. Furthermore, solar water pasteurization has lowered incidence of waterborne diseases like diarrhea by 78 percent.

SCOREPS developed greater self esteem and achieved increased status in their families and community. Their spouses now treat them as partners in household budgeting and decision making. SCOREPS were seen as role models after presenting solar cooking information on local and national radio programs. “The SCOREPS movement has proved itself as a formidable team through which awareness creation and CooKit sales were achieved and can continue beyond the project,” said evaluators. “There will, however, be the need of support from the stakeholders and development partners, including micro-lending institutions.”

Lessons learned

In retrospect, marketing might have been even more successful had SCI consulted more widely with Kenyan-based social marketing experts in the initial stages, started sales immediately rather than waiting until after an initial awareness campaign, restricted activity to a smaller geographical area (Nyakach is very spread out), used successful solar cooks as spokespeople more frequently, and focused marketing messages on positive economic and health benefits while more clearly explaining product limitations.

Flexible payment plans and time frames are required when selling products to severely impoverished people, even when long-term fuel savings will more than make up for the cost of the CooKit. The layaway payment system that was offered created unfortunate situations where customers had begun making payments on cookers but did not actually receive them until they were paid off, delaying the fuel savings that they so desperately needed to realize.

Factors that contributed to frequent use include:

  • Understanding of the advantages of unattended cooking
  • Presence of other solar cooks nearby
  • Willingness to carry the CooKit with them to their workplace or farm
  • Preference for the taste of solar-cooked foods
  • Ease of heating household drinking water to kill pathogens
  • Interest in maximizing firewood savings

Factors that contributed to infrequent use include:

  • Not purchasing transparent cooking bags after the initial set wore out
  • Absence from home during weekdays, combined with distrust of leaving food cooking all day with no one present
  • Fear of damage to the CooKit by unexpected rain, curious children or wandering animals
  • Discomfort with planning food purchases and food preparation in advance
  • Poor results during an initial cooking session (too much water, started too late, intermittent clouds coming in, etc.)
  • Cannot be used at night or during inclement weather
  • Multiple cookers needed for large families
  • Cardboard not that durable

It is a challenge to develop and carry out a market-based solar cooker initiative in a community with nearly 70 percent of the population living in poverty. Over five years, SCI spent just under $325,000 planning, marketing, implementing and evaluating Sunny Solutions. Many, many thanks to those who are supporting this project and other SCI efforts in eastern Africa and worldwide.

SCI ultimately achieved or exceeded most of its Sunny Solutions goals, and now solar cookers are available through the local marketplace in Nyakach. Building on these successes, SCI is expanding across Nyanza province. Employees previously serving Nyakach have been redeployed to cover the whole of Nyanza province from an office in the more centrally located town of Kisumu. The town of Kakamega is the base for similar growth throughout Kenya’s Western province, where SCI is working with 14 shopkeepers and small businesses to stock solar cookers and supplies.

Contact: Marion Karewa Anyango, project assistant, Sunny Solutions Nyanza, P.O. BOX 3766-40100, Kisumu, Kenya. Tel: + 254 721 833 704, e-mail:; Simon Omondi Ogutu, project officer, Sunny Solutions Western, P.O. Box 2347 Code 50100, Kakamega, Kenya. Tel: +254 57 250 4876, e-mail:

Message from the board president

This year has brought Solar Cookers International (SCI) many changes, but also reinforced its unique strengths and expanded volunteer efforts.

A search is underway for a new executive director following the recent resignation of Patrick Widner. Former Executive Director Bev Blum is serving in an interim capacity.

SCI, like many other nonprofit organizations, received fewer donations last year. Support this year is rebounding, though, thanks to the exceptional work of Resource Development Coordinator Rene Hamlin, Database Manager Patricia Amazon, and you, our donors.

The world’s best source of information on solar cooking and solar water pasteurization strategies, technologies, and key promoters continues to be SCI’s Web sites. The recent, interactive wiki site is now updated by promoters in 60 countries and can be searched by country, organization, promoter, or type of solar cooker. Thanks to long-time volunteer webmaster Tom Sponheim and Education Resources Director Kevin Porter for their ongoing efforts to provide unparalleled content. SCI’s education resources dissemination continues to grow thanks to Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator Sierra Scott.

SCI’s six volunteer United Nations representatives now advocate for solar cooking and solar water pasteurization systems with a much louder voice thanks to the SCI-initiated Solar Cookers World Network of 100+ independent organizations in 52 countries.

SCI’s Sunny Solutions microenterprise project in the western Kenya province of Nyanza continues to spread to adjacent regions, including northern Tanzania, thanks to Eastern Africa Director Margaret Owino and her dedicated staff and local volunteers in each area. Grants from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have contributed to this spread, and have helped SCI incorporate simple field tests for water contamination, implemented by Dr. Bob Metcalf, a professor of biological sciences and longtime SCI volunteer.

One thing that hasn’t changed this year is the ever-increasing need for simple, affordable, sustainable solutions that reduce respiratory diseases from smoke, diarrheal diseases from unsafe water, and women’s burdens from firewood gathering. SCI continues to stretch every dollar of support by utilizing numerous volunteers, including its excellent and devoted board of directors.

Thanks again for helping to bring these solutions to more families. Your donations make a world of difference.

Gary Hursh
SCI board president

Volunteer Don Coan inducted into SCI Order of Excellence

by Kevin Porter, SCI director of education resources

Volunteer Don Coan tests solar cooking bags for durability: 34 uses!
Volunteer Don Coan tests solar cooking bags for durability: 34 uses!

Solar Cookers International (SCI) recently inducted volunteer Don Coan into its Order of Excellence. He is the 10th person to earn this honor recognizing those whose “sustained efforts have contributed most to empowering people to cook food and pasteurize water with solar energy.”

Don has likely logged more volunteer hours than any other SCI office volunteer. After retiring in 1988, Don found a meaningful way to spend some of his free time when he discovered SCI, then called Solar Box Cookers International. For more than two decades, Don has volunteered several hours each week in our Sacramento office, often packaging solar cookers and related products for distribution.

In the early days, Don helped to disseminate thousands of simple instructions for building solar box cookers. He also led numerous solar cooker construction workshops, and represented SCI in a Sacramento Municipal Utility District school program. To this day, Don is approached by adults who, as children, made solar box cookers with him.

Don is a tireless advocate of solar cooking. He has participated in a number of international conferences and events, has hosted multiple solar cooking booths at the California State Fair, and has written letters to and been interviewed by the media. Don even taught his neighbors how to solar cook, and organized annual neighborhood solar cooking picnics.

We are blessed to see Don each week, and benefit greatly from his steadfastness and enthusiasm for our mission. Not only is he one in a million, but he can solar bake a mean dessert to boot. But that’s just icing on the cake!


Jean Runyon remembered as SCI supporter, advocate

Solar Cookers International staff and board members are saddened by the passing of Jean Runyon. Jean not only gave generously to SCI over the years, but she also hosted a wonderful brunch at her home to which she invited people whom she thought might be interested in SCI’s programs. As a result of this gathering, more than $50,000 was raised by a single invitee in the months to follow. This is just one example of Jean’s good works and how her championship of causes has made such a difference to many. We wish her family well.

Youth giving, solar style

by Rene Hamlin, SCI resource development coordinator, and Kevin Porter, SCI director of education resources

Youth proudly and passionately support solar cooking efforts by raising awareness and funds, as did these students from Schwenksville Elementary School
Youth proudly and passionately support solar cooking efforts by raising awareness and funds, as did these students from Schwenksville Elementary School

Many, if not a majority, of Solar Cookers International’s supporters are middle-aged or older, and have some discretionary income. However, we see great potential in today’s youth, specifically those under 25, and are brainstorming ways to engage them further and encourage their support — both through volunteerism and giving.

We are continually amazed at the ingenuity and spirit we have seen from many in this age group. They are organizing fundraisers, such as benefit concerts and solar bake sales, as well as giving a portion of their allowance or paychecks. Most of these events happen without our prior knowledge. We typically receive a check in the mail, along with a nice letter and a photograph or two, which we take great delight in reading.

Here are some inspiring recent examples:

Operation Solar Bake Sale
Operation Solar Bake Sale
Claire and Charlie, from Texas, held “Operation Solar Bake Sale” to raise funds for Solar Cookers International (SCI). “I think this is a great idea. I was happy to help!” said Claire. 

  • Tracy Moreno, from Schwenksville Elementary School in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, wrote to say that her talented 5th graders designed and built solar cookers and used them to cook mini s’mores for classmates. Moreno utilized SCI’s Web site and materials to teach the children about the plight of women around the world that don’t have access to clean cooking fuels. “Facilitating the learning of young people by integrating engaging lessons with global issues is truly a love of mine,” writes Moreno. “I thank you for the resources that provided me the opportunity to inspire these terrific children.” The students held a fundraiser and collected over $150 for SCI’s programs.
  • Nissa, a high school senior from New York, is not only raising funds for SCI, but also for her own solar cooker project in Nepal next year. Nissa held a benefit concert called “Solar Songs” featuring a number of local and national musicians, raising funds through business sponsorships and donations by concertgoers. Nissa is “passionate about environmental issues and global citizenship” and says that a solar cooker project “seemed like a perfect way to combine the two.”
  • Cary Williams reports that 5th graders from Winnetka, Illinois, studied solar energy applications and African cultures and languages, and then combined the two by exploring ways solar energy could be used to benefit those in sunny parts of Africa who struggle to cook food and pasteurize drinking water on a daily basis. Some students made solar ovens, others designed solar water purifiers. One student even created a backpack solar cooker that could be worn while walking. Towards the end of the year, the youth researched nonprofit organizations that specialize in solar cookers. SCI was the “winner” and the students raised funds for us by selling “Sun Shine Shakes” to students for $2 each. They ultimately raised over $600 for SCI to “send to Africa as many solar cookers as possible.” Says Williams, “This has been a learning and growing year. None of us will forget the power of the sun and the good that can be done all over the word when we harness it.”

Not all the youth gifts come from grassroots efforts. Models of traditional and non traditional giving exist that are youth-driven and focused. Nonprofit organizations like Markmakers Foundation ( and the One Percent Foundation ( educate youth about evaluating and supporting organizations. SCI is a giving option for youth who are using the Markmakers shopping cart-style Web site. SCI has recently been nominated as a grant recipient in the more traditional One Percent Foundation method of giving as well.

Whether through grassroots efforts or formal mechanisms, youth are giving and they are supporting SCI’s mission of promoting solar cooking and solar water pasteurization systems for the benefit of people and environments. We are honored and inspired by their support and we thank them for being so selfless. If you have thoughts on ways to increase youth involvement, or would like more information about supporting SCI, please contact SCI Resource Development Coordinator Rene Hamlin at (916) 455-4499 or

Solar Cookers World Network update

by Bev Blum, SCWNet secretariat

Future Goals

The nine partner agencies that comprise the Steering Committee of the Solar Cooker World Network (SCWNet) have proposed goals for the next three years that would include advocacy support, improved standards for solar cookers and related technologies, and strategies for up-sizing small successes. SCWNet hopes to begin raising funds for these and more activities.

Specific activities for 2010-2012 include:

  • Sustained cultivation of governments, international nongovernmental organizations, and the United Nations (U.N.) in support of members’ projects. Examples include advocacy efforts at the World Health Organization, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the U.S. government’s Partnership for Clean Indoor Air.
  • Sharing tools and opportunities, including educational literature, case studies of well-documented projects, and grant opportunities.
  • Revision and expansion of standards for solar cooker capacity, convenience, cost, durability, versatility, and target markets.
  • Compiling a list of the most widely-used solar cookers worldwide.

Partner opportunity

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in rural villages in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and on Native American reservations for 19 years. While SELF’s expertise is in solar PV, it has begun to partner with organizations to introduce wells, drip irrigation and other “green” technologies into its projects. Bob Freling, SELF’s executive director, recently took a solar Hot Pot to Benin for testing.

Freling notes that solar PV installations are not able to generate enough electricity for cooking. Thus, women in these electrified villages still have to chop down trees or collect dung for their cooking fires. He is interested in exploring partnerships with solar cooking organizations working in villages where SELF is already established. (He is not offering funding.)

Contact: Bev Blum, secretariat, Solar Cookers World Network, e-mail:, Web:; Bob Freling, executive director, Solar Electric Light Fund, 1612 K Street, NW Suite 402, Washington, DC 20006, USA. E-mail:, Web:

Alternative giving this holiday season

by Sierra Scott, Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator

The holidays are fast approaching. As in years past, Solar Cookers International (SCI) wishes to encourage its members and supporters to consider alternative gift-giving, the practice of making a meaningful contribution to a worthy cause in lieu of a traditional present. There are many great reasons to engage in this form of giving, including: promoting altruism, mitigating the effects of the holidays on the environment, and emphasizing the true spirit of the season.

A popular way of participating in alternative giving is to make a donation in someone else’s name. For this we offer gift cards personalized with a hand-written message of your choosing. And for those who prefer to buy something that can be unwrapped, there’s good news — the proceeds from sales of our solar cooking products support our nonprofit work, and the gift recipients are introduced to the wonderful benefits of cooking with the sun!

To place your holiday orders, please visit the SCI Marketplace at or contact SCI Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator Sierra Scott at +1 (916) 455-4499.




Tribute gifts have been given to Solar Cookers International by:

  • Joyce Cassel in memory of Prof. John Pollock
  • Therese Edlin in honor of David Toma
  • Karyn Ellis in honor of Carolyn J. Ellis
  • Prissy Lee in memory of Vivian Moore Lee
  • Werner and Helen Muller in honor of Louisa Fanver
  • Claire Russell in honor of Bel Aire School
  • George Smith in memory of Jo Smith
  • Gwynne and Dewey Smith in memory of George and Gertrude Prosser
  • Dorothy Stewart in honor of the marriage of William Sherman and Jane Snellman

SCI financial summary July 2008 – June 2009


  • Donations - $604,967
  • Grants - $128,889
  • Sales (gross profit) - $114,415
  • Donated goods and services - $17,173
  • Other - ($151)

TOTAL - $865,293


  • International programs - $431,038
  • Education resources - $178,686
  • Advocacy - $59,812
  • Humanitarian assistance - $25,096
  • Resource development - $104,117
  • Administration - $101,648

TOTAL - $900,397


  • Cash - $195,160
  • Investments - $38,817
  • Grants receivable - $109,105
  • Equipment and vehicles - $14,104
  • Inventories for sale - $13,615
  • Other - $8,809

TOTAL - $379,610


TOTAL - $23,814

NET ASSETS (06/30/09) - $355,796

Calling all U.S. federal employees!

Are you a federal employee? Do you know one? Solar Cookers International (SCI) has again qualified as a participating organization in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). SCI is a beneficiary of the effort through the Aid for Africa Federation. We are proud to meet the rigorous financial, accountability, and governance standards, and ask for your CFC support.

Federal employees have the option of supporting SCI with either a one-time gift or with recurring payroll deductions. For those interested in joining the effort, our CFC number is 11023. This code directs your donation to SCI’s Africa programs. Information is available on-line at Your questions are also welcomed by SCI Resource Development Coordinator Rene Hamlin. You can reach her by telephone: +1 (916) 455-4499, or e-mail:

Thanks, federal employees, for your philanthropy and involvement in the effort to spread this sustainable solar solution.

Solar Cooker Review

Solar Cooker Review (“Review”) is published two or three times per year with the purpose of presenting solar cooking and solar water pasteurization information from around the world. Topics include solar cooker technologies, dissemination strategies, educational materials, and cultural and social adaptations. From time to time we cover related topics such as women’s issues, wood shortages, health, nutrition, air pollution, climatic changes, and the environment.

The Review is sent to those who contribute money or news about solar cooking projects. The suggested subscription price is $10/year. Single copies are sent free to select libraries and groups overseas.

We welcome reports and commentary related to solar cooking for possible inclusion. These may be edited for clarity or space. Please cite sources whenever possible. Send to Solar Cookers International (SCI), 1919 21st Street #101, Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA. You may also submit by fax: +1 (916) 455-4498 or e-mail:

The Review is compiled and edited by Kevin Porter, SCI’s director of education resources, with assistance from other staff. Layout is graciously donated by IMPACT Publications located in Medford, Oregon, USA.

SCI is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization assisting communities in using the power of the sun to cook food and pasteurize water for the benefit of people and environments. SCI is a member of InterAction. We do not sell, rent or trade names of donors. Tax ID # 68-0153141.

The Review is available on-line at 


This document is published on The Solar Cooking Archive at For questions or comments, contact