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Solar Cookers International (SCI) was founded in 1987 by a unique group of people in the sunny Central Valley of California. To this group of 17 solar cooks, the global need for solar cooking was apparent.

barbara kerr and sherry cole
  Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole

They pooled their solar cooking knowledge to produce manuals that would enable others to build and use simple solar box cookers similar to models developed in the mid 1970s by Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole. SCI’s executive director, Beverly Blum, spearheaded advocacy efforts to bring solar cooking to the attention of development and relief agencies. Publicity about SCI’s work spread abroad, and we began receiving thousands of requests from fuel-stressed communities for our booklets, which we were happy to supply. The publicity also brought us into contact with the handful of other nonprofit groups worldwide — mainly in Europe — that were starting to promote solar cooking and to offer nascent information services to interested groups in the developing world.

solar cooking banana breadSCI’s unique roles in the early- to mid-1990s were in networking with our handful of peers and encouraging local solar cooking promotion efforts. SCI hosted various forums for dialogue not only among the nonprofit organizations in the United States and Europe, but with the proliferating grass roots solar cooking promotion efforts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. SCI co-sponsored three international solar cooking conferences — with the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA in 1992; the National University of Costa Rica, Heredia, Costa Rica in 1994; and the Deemed University, Coimbatore, India in 1997 — and regional conferences in Honduras, Kenya and Ecuador. We welcome as a positive development — rather than as a threat to our bailiwick — the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has become involved since 1999 in sponsoring international solar cooking conferences. There is still plenty to do to provide more assistance to grass roots groups and to foster more communication and cooperation among solar cooking promoters.

refugee women solar cookingLagging, however, had been our success in attracting many of the larger relief and development agencies to solar cooking. Therefore, we began enhancing the case for solar cookers by administering a series of solar cooking field projects. Since 1995, SCI has managed, or co-managed, solar cooking projects in Nyakach, Kenya; Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya; Aisha refugee camp, Ethiopia; various communities, Zimbabwe; and Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. SCI’s latest project — Sunny Solutions — aims to bring solar cooking skills and supplies to 6,000 residents of Nyakach, Kenya, through micro-enterprise ventures run primarily by small-business people. Thirty thousand families in eastern and southern Africa have learned to solar cook through SCI’s field projects thus far.


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