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SCI News

Kenya Safe Water Workshop  |  June 30, 2008

SCI has recently initiated a Safe Water Initiative and will incorporate simple and safe water testing into current international programs involving solar cooking and water pasteurization. SCI’s Board President and one of its founders, Bob Metcalf, is the ‘inventor’ of the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) that we are introducing to government ministries to assist with official water testing procedures at the grassroots level. Contacts made last year with officials from Kenya’s Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and Ministry of Health (MOH)~ the leading institutions involved with clean water in Kenya, enabled representatives from each of these ministry’s primary locations throughout the country participate in the Safe Water Workshop provided by SCI in June, and in turn train others in their districts, who will then train others, and so on creating a trickle-down effect all the way to the village level.

Our goal is to provide a simple and inexpensive method of testing water in remote areas that heretofore has not been possible due to scarce laboratory facilities and costly transportation fees. This is a revolutionary process that will significantly increase the ability of EVERYONE in Kenya to know the quality of the water they drink, and to purify contaminated water with simple and inexpensive solar technologies. These are photos of the first of many Safe Water Workshops, which involved detailed instruction on specific PML water-testing techniques, importance of cleanliness and sanitation, and practical methods of treating contaminated water.

Bob introducing the Safe Water Workshop and getting acquainted with participants.

There were approximately 50 participants present for the workshop, 20 from WRMA and 20 from MOH

Bob at the front table with honored guests, preparing to start the workshop.

SCI's East Africa Director, Margaret Owino, introduces the staff and gives a brief on SCI's East Africa programs.

Bob and Faustine.

Some of the honored government guests who participated in the workshop.

A water sample from a local water source ~ collected in a Whirlpak, a sterilized plastic bag that can be flipped over itself to keep the sample sterile until testing.

Each Whirlpak is labeled and each sample is tested in two ways: in a test tube to test for presence of E-Coli, and on a Patrifilm to determine the number of E-Coli present in a sample.

Faustine Ofaba, John Rumberia and Bob Metcalf demonstrate before workshop participants.

Bob shows the petrifilm ~ a portable petri dish much more suitable for testing a number count of bacteria present in the bush.

Bob demonstrating the importance of keeping the test tubes sterile by opening them a certain way.

Each of the workshop participants tested some water from local sources, using the simple materials from the PML: Whirlpaks for collecting water samples, test tubes and petrifilms containing E-Coli indicating substances, and pipettes for sterile transference of water.

Faustine is our lead solar cooking trainer in the field, and has learned water testing quickly and tries to incorporate this process into as many solar cooking and water pasteurization projects as possible.

This photo depicts Faustine placing a test tube in her bra to incubate overnight. The final process of testing water with the PML is to incubate the tests for 12-24 hours ~ and the perfect temperature for incubation happens to be body temperature. (Let us learn from the chicken!) So when you're out in the bush without any modern amenities, incubating water samples on the body is the logical solution.

The incubation process is the part we've had the most resistance about ~ many (especially older) villagers equate incubating something on your body to voodoo, or just find it too weird. Even some of the government workers were uneasy with the process ~ these are the petrifilms that were left to incubate on the table overnight; an option (especially since it was warm out) but incubation takes much longer at inopportune temperatures.

This is a 'hay pouch' created by Mr. John Rumberia ~ a water testing expert from the village of Embu: understanding the cultural discomfort with incubating water samples on the body, John fashioned this method of incubating tests with a hot water bottle and a couple of cloth bags.

The process of this 'hay pouch' is modeled after the hay basket for it's insulative qualities ~ rather than incubate a water sample on one's body for 12-24 hours, it is possible to keep it warm in an incubating pouch like this one.

There was a Cholera outbreak a few weeks before the Safe Water Workshop, which was contained by the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and Ministry of Health (MOH) by using the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML). Now that's a testimony!

Rose Namori is a Microbiology Scientist working for WRMA in Nairobi who performed extensive tests comparing the ability of the PML to test water in the field to testing performed in a formal laboratory facility. Thanks to Rose, it is widely accepted by Kenyan government ministries that the PML is a an effective means by which to treat water in areas without electricity or modern conveniences.

Rose was fundamental to this workshop, here she is seen assisting participants with water testing specifics, and the affirming report given by Rose at the workshop served to significantly reinforce the case for the PML use by government workers.

Bob was his usual animated self, instructing the class on water testing processing using the simple materials of the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML).

Solar cooking was, of course, a big part of the Safe Water Workshop in Kisumu, Kenya.

Dozens of solar cookers were set up an cooking various Africa dishes throughout the day.

Me and Faustine, our lead trainer and solar cooker extraordinaire.

During the Safe Water Workshop, our East Africa staff and SCOREPS (Solar Cooking Representatives) were busy cooking food with various Integrated Cooking methods: solar cookers, parabolic cookers, box cookers, hay baskets, etc.

Most Africa dishes cook extremely well in a solar cooker, since it is essentially a slow cooker and many local dishes are stew-like or rice-oriented. This staple green, called Sukoma Wiki (translated means to 'stretch out the week') cooks perfectly in a solar cooker.

Meat also cooks well in a solar cooker, and the result is a more tender, flavorful piece of meat, since it is slow cooked in it's own juices.

SCOREPS, staff and trainees from Burundi prepare a solar cooked feast for the workshop.

Anastasie ~ one of the trainees from nearby Burundi. Two women interested in establishing a solar cooking project at the church where they work came to Kenya for a 5-day training by SCI's East Africa Office.

One of our long-time SCOREPS (Solar Cooking Reps) cooking with the parabolic. Parabolics are the most powerful of the solar cooking devices ~ they focus the sun's heat on to a specific point on the pot, and provide temperatures easily adequate to fry food. While very effective, these types of cookers are high maintenance since very sensitive to even a slight change in the position, and prices are normally in the thousands.

A parabolic can fry meat as easily as any stovetop grill.

Fried bread is a popular item in many developing countries.

Serving food fried in a parabolic is an attention getter ~ the parabolic attracts attention with it's large size and flashy design. People are amazed that food can cook at all with only the power of the sun, and the hight price of the parabolic reinforces the practicality of the much lower priced CooKit.

A rice dish was brought to a boil in the parabolic in the morning, placed in a hay basket to finish cooking, and the dish was ready by lunch time.

Solar cookers set up outside the Safe Water Workshop.

SCI Staff and SCOREPS (Solar Cooker Reps) serving solar cooked food to workshop participants.

Solar cooked food.

Blowing on food, because yes ~ it gets that hot!

On the last day of the Safe Water Workshop, we all went on a field trip of the region where we were shown the sources of the water we tested over the course of the workshop:

A view of Lake Victoria ~ the largest lake in Africa, and the largest tropical lake in the world.

A man washing his clothes in Lake Victoria.

Bob with a water sample from Lake Vic.

Our driver ~ oh so fly.

The ladies from Burundi in our van... we had fun because...

...we were in the private Chicks Club!

Faustine pumps water from a well into a water jug. Water from pumps and especially deep wells normally turn out well in water tests.

Here is a good example of the differences simple education can make ~ while the water source may be good, simple placing a water jug in mud or water that may contain feces (and thereby possibly E-Coli) increases the possibility of bringing the disease into a home.

An elderly woman wanted to know what all the people were doing poking around her compound, looking at water sources....

John explained what we were doing, which was received with great interest by both madam and the rest of the compound dwellers ~ John and SCI staff promised to return to test their water and discuss solar water pasteurization with them.

Bike taxis in Kisumu, waiting for fares. The back racks are cushioned and you sit side-saddle... it's a strange sensation to move forward while facing sideways, especially when you don't have control of the unbalanced moving object!

A muddy stream ~ you can see in the front right of the pic the pumping mechanism, which takes this water to the processing plant about 1/4 of a mile away.

The water processing plant in Kisumu.

These trucks can be seen all over Kenya.

Local water suppliers filling up delivery vessels.

John Amayo, Project Supervisor for Sunny Solutions in Kadibo, waxes poetic about the importance of incorporating safe water in SCI's projects.

SCI's office in Kadibo, near the Western Gulf of Lake Victoria.

SCOREPS (Solar Cookers Representatives) gathering for the Anniversary Celebration outside SCI's Sunny Solutions Office in Katito ~ not far from Kadibo and also on Lake Victoria.

The grounds for SCI's 10-year Anniversary Celebration.

An innovative solar water trough ~ a device powered by the sun to heat and purify water for drinking.

Food cooking in a hay basket at the EARO 10 Anniversary Event.

One of the things SCI promotes in our endeavors is income generation ~ in other words, replacing the time that women spend walking miles to gather wood every day with another, more productive activity. All of the goods for sale on this table were made by this woman as a result of time saved with solar cooking.

The venue for the EARO 10th Anniversary Celebration.

SCI EARO's own Lead Trainer, Faustine Odaba, sporting tribal garb for the ceremony.

Faustine, myself, Rose and honored guests at SCI-EARO's 10 year Anniversary Celebration.

Singing and dancing ensued, as usual!

SCI's Sunny Solutions Lead Project Officer Dinah Chiengo demonstrates the uses and practicality of the CooKit for rural Kenya.

Members of SCI-US and SCI-EARO joining together to celebrate EARO's 10th Anniversary!

SCI's East Africa Regional Director, Margaret Owino, facilitates the Safe Water Workshop Awards Ceremony.

Bob preparing to speak at the Water Workshop Awards Ceremony.

Bob speaking at the Awards Ceremony.

Giving out awards at the ceremony.

During the ceremony we provided a stock of Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) materials to the heads of the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) of Kenya.

As deftly demonstrated by our own Simon Ogutu, dancing is an integral part of every celebration in Africa.

Cleophas Onono was the Team Leader for the Sunny Solutions Evaluation executed by Archway Technology Management. The professional evaluation was intended to in provide an accurate and useful portrayal of Sunny Solutions' accomplishments to learn from and continue with, and identification of areas to improve effectiveness and productivity. I was able to attend the initial Stakeholders Meeting involving
brainstorming sessions with local health workers, hotel/food vendors, development agents, fuel vendors, government workers, teachers and local solar cooks discussing benefits, challenges and techniques of solar cooking in the community.

Participants at Stakeholders Meeting.

Speaking participant.

Margaret speaking at Stakeholders Meeting.

The Greenbelt Center is home to Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement: Dr. Maathai is one of Kenya's most respected environmental and political activists. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental non-governmental organization, which has now planted over 40 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion, empower women in their daily lives and preserve one of Kenya's most precious commodities. The Green Belt Center is a meeting place for many environmental movements, home to a great number of trees, plants and gardens and just a pleasant place to be.

This is the 'main-house' at the Green Belt Center ~ a cushy, pretty, pillowy, extremely comfortable atmosphere that only a women-oriented commune can provide.

Trees, trees and m ore trees is the theme here.

The African Women and Water Conference organized by environmental nonprofits A Single Drop, Women's Earth Alliance, Crabgrass and GROOTS Kenya, was a week-long workshop to instruct 32 women from 16 Africa countries (teams of 2) in various water treatment and sanitation methods. Incorporating solar cooking and water pasteurization techniques, along with water testing skills taught with the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML), SCI was an integral part of this workshop, and lucky we were to be a part of it.

This is the Demo Hall where most of the training took place during the Africa Women and Water Conference.

This is a slow sand filter and it's mold. A slow sand filter purifies water by progressively layering organic material of decreasing size inside a cylindrical container; beginning with small stones, next layering pebbles, then coarse gravel, sand, then fine sand at the top. Water is poured over the layers and when it comes out at the bottom ~ voila! A slow sand filter is slow, and can be burdensome to make, but it works very well with natural ingredients that can be found just about anywhere.

These are some organic materials ready to be put into the filter.

Mariah Klingsmith will be following up on the 30 workshop participants over the next year ~ visiting their various villages in their respective countries. Mariah already had a great blog set up and her updates are regular: http://mariahsadventures-africa.blogspot.com/

Gemma is the founder of A Single Drop ~ a safe water nonprofit based in the Philippines and the organizer of the African Women and Water Conference. Gemma was so impressed with SCI Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) that she will be hosting Bob in the Philippines early next year, so that he can introduce SCI's safe water project to A Single Drop and the many environmental nonprofits that Gemma has ties with in the Philippines.

Bob was able to coach Mariah extensively on the Safe Water Program and the PML preceding the workshop. She was given a CooKit and pot, WAPI and PML materials so that she can teach and provide consultations on her year-long journey.

Here are a few pix of our East Africa office and staff, based in Nairobi:

The CooKit as made by our East Africa Regional Office (EARO) in Kenya. They have added the purple tape on the edges to protect it from the elements, which is a great addition. All of the CooKits in Africa are handmade, and every workshop trains its participants how to obtain materials and construct their own solar cookers.

Our East Africa Regional Office (EARO) in Nairobi. This is the main hub in East Africa for solar cooking information, materials and training.

EARO front room.

Lucy and Stella Odaba ~ Faustine's daughters and two of SCI's stellar employees. Stella heads the Kajiado office a few hours south of Nairobi and works primarily in the Masai region of Kenya. Lucy works closer to Nairobi and is the lead expert at making Hay Baskets ~ her work is unsurpassed!

A trainee from Burundi making a Hay Basket under Lucy's instruction.

Margaret at her desk @ the EARO.

Elijah Achola ~ our trusty Fiscal Manager at SCI's EARO.

I'm so proud of our East Africa office and staff and projects!


Tanzania and TanzSolar  |  June 23, 2008

I traveled to Musoma, Tanzania to pursue collaborations between SCI and TanzSolar ~ a newly established nonprofit that will provide affordable solar panels to local internet organizations, health clinics, schools, small businesses and individuals throughout Tanzania. While TanzSolar specializes in photovoltaic (PV) systems, they are interested in expanding their solar reach and open to working with SCI to bring simple solar cooking and water pasteurization techniques to the area as well.

Marianne and her sons showed me great hospitality while I was in Musoma, treating me like family and taking time from their busy schedules to help with a solar demo and introduce me to some active and influential business people in the community; like Sergio Velasquez of Mano a Mano, and Robi Machaba of JuaSun, a local internet company that works closely with Marianne and TanzSolar. With their help we rounded up a good group of locally active individuals interested in improving their environment by providing alternative methods of cooking, treating water and generating income in their community. Together we organized a very successful day of informational presentations on solar cooking and water pasteurization ideologies, processes and techniques, generating a great deal of participation and interest. With the help of those listed above and SCI's East Africa Office, SCI and TanzSolar will plan to host a 5-day integrated solar workshop on the TanzSolar grounds later in the year.

Mt Kiliminjaro in the distance, from the window of the tiny plane we took from Dar es Salaam to the small town of Musoma on Lake Victoria.

Marianne and me.

The TanzSolar grounds ~ a good sized compound with three buildings and a massive yard.

The other two building on the TanzSolar compound ~ straight ahead is a workshop, and to the right is another house / living quarters.

The hugs lawn space gets a lot of sun and is perfect for solar cooking and water pasteurization.

These are two different clay stoves found in the market in Musoma, both burn charcoal 'conservatively', but charcoal requires a great deal of wood to produce and seems to be the leading method of cooking in Musoma.

We bought pots at the market and painted them black for the demo the next day. If we had had a bit more time we would have let them 'bake' in the sun for a few days ~ as it was they were a bit 'tacky' but served their purpose.

Marianne painting lids. The pots and lids are painted black to attract the heat of the sun, and the pots are placed into a heat-resistant clear plastic bag which has a greenhouse effect of trapping the heat and keeping it in the pot.

Like here in the US, black pots are not as prevalent as silver ones, so painting pots black is an essential component to solar cooking.

Black chalkboard paint works very well for painting pots since it is a matte substance which eliminates shine and does not chip easily, and is also available in practically any village in Africa.

We set up 10 CooKits on the lawn to pasteurize water and cook food during the demonstration / presentation.

One of the pots contained water and a WAPI, and one of the first things I was able to show people was how easily and quickly a CooKit can pasteurize a pot of water, making potentially contaminated water safe to drink.

I showed a PowerPoint presentation, the SunCookers DVD about SCI's exploits in Kenya, and some photos of the recent Integrated Solar Cooking workshop in Uganda to the 20-ish participants.

The presentation was given in the living room of TanzSolar.

It was a small and personal group in a comfortable atmosphere, where discussion was encouraged, drinks served, posters up, etc.

The Q&A session was lively and I see a lot of interest in possible project directions in Musoma.

During breaks in the presentation we all went outside to check on the progress of the food, which took a little longer due to slight cloud-cover, but turned out very well in the end.

Even though the day was slightly cloudy on and off, the local dishes cooked well.

Participants were amazed at how hot the pots got in the solar cookers.

We cooked 9 local dishes, and everything turned out exceptionally well.

I interpret this one as an amazed gaze up at the sun :)



SCI featured on "Good Day Sacramento" TV show  |  June 20, 2008

SCI staff and volunteers exhibited a number of solar cookers and solar-cooked dishes on the popular morning television show "Good Day Sacramento" on Friday, June 20. The segment can be streamed on the Internet at http://www.cbs13.com/video/?id=35115@kovr.dayport.com.


Uganda Integrated Cooking Workshop  |  June 15, 2008

In early June I set out to Uganda to assist with an Integrated Solar Cooking workshop in the small town of Obia, on the border of Congo. This project was initiated by Max and Mary Lou Ozimek of Ohio, and started with 13-year old Max winning a science project with a solar cooker last year. Max volunteers for a hospice where he met Father Alexander Inke, who made an impression on Max and quickly became a close family friend. As a result of many conversations with Father Inke about his village of Obia in NW Uganda, Max correctly deduced that solar cookers could make a substantial impact on a small village like Obia with very few resources. Max and Mary Lou contacted me at SCI, and Kawesa Mukasa at Solar Connect Association (SCA) and an integrated solar cooking workshop project was born.

For those who don't know, Integrated Cooking is a fusion of solar cooking, along with hay baskets and fuel efficient stoves. The combination of these cooking techniques assure an 85% reduction in the amount of fuel used in any given area ~ an impact that helps considerably in areas where fuel resources are dwindling at a disconcerting rate.

Needless to say, our 5-day workshop was a resounding success, supplemented nicely by a surprise visit from Aid Africa who put on an informative and educational demonstration on the fuel-efficient 6-Brick Rocket Stove. We are already receiving reports back that a good number of the 36 participants are reaching out to nearby communities and organizing demonstrations and workshops on their own. That's what it's all about! SCI and SCA will work together to provide adequate follow up as well as materials to ensure that future endeavors are productive and effective in the Obia area and Nebbi district.

Here is some documentation of this trip ~ I hope you enjoy!

Beautiful Uganda ~ talk about green! This was my first trip to this gorgeous country and it definitely made an impression on me.

Mary Lou and Max Ozimek and I arrived together on a flight from the Netherlands and we received a very warm welcome from their priest and family friend Father Inke, and Kawesa Mukasa ~ head of Solar Connect Association, who facilitated the workshop in Obia.

I was very impressed not only by the availability of solar cookers at SCA, but by the array of integrated cooking materials that SCA promotes and makes in-office.

CooKits are made by hand on the premises, and assembly of solar cookers is a primary component of SCA's workshops around Uganda.

They also have a good number of fuel-efficient stoves available for sale, which are also incorporated into demonstrations and workshops as an integral part of integrated cooking.

SCA cooks regularly with a fuel-efficient stove at their headquarters in Kampala.

Beautiful Hay Baskets, the third component of integrated cooking, are also made at the Solar Connect Association office in Kampala.

Olivia and me ~ fast friends ~ at the SCA office.

Fish brought to a boil over a fire and cooked in a Hay Basket @ SCA.

Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI's) being made at the SCA office.

Kawesa Mukasa, founder of SCA, showing me some educational materials they distribute on solar and integrated cooking.

The team at Solar Connect Association in Kampala, preparing to leave on the journey to Obia, on the other end of the country.

Father Alexander Inke, me, Mary Lou Ozimek and her son Max.

A baboon on the road.

Baboon family.

The Nile!

A typical outdoor market in Kampala. (There's an awful lot of bananas in Uganda!)

Grasshoppers. Taste like liver.

The beautiful and green Nebbi district, where Obia is located, is in the northwestern region of Uganda ~ you can see Congo in none-too-far-off distance.

Downtown Obia.

Cute kids in the village.

This is how most people cook ~ don't ask me why cooking inside is so popular, but it isn't uncommon for a number of women to cook together in an enclosed space.

This exposes these women and their children to amazing amounts of indoor air pollution and greatly increasing the risk of respiratory disease.

Prior to the workshop, I gave a PowerPoint presentation of the causes for and history of integrated cooking and water pasteurization. While a translator is often needed, the photos of situations and experiences in their native land normally get people's attention.

Mukasa and Olivia of Solar Connect Association (SCA) are the lead professionals in solar and integrated cooking in Uganda.

The training center where we had our 5-day Integrated Cooking Workshop. It was basically just a big hall without water or electricity, so we brought in a generator, fan and sound system for the translator and my slide show.

This was our audience ~ our 36 workshop participants, and just about everyone they knew in the vicinity.

Mukasa and Olivia of SCA did a great job of facilitating.

SCA provides a basic instruction handout that is very helpful.

Our audience was very attentive and did a great job of listening and participating in our various demo's.

Olivia of SCA is a solar chef indeed!

If Olivia is the Head Chef, then Mukasa is the King Chef and knows his biz.

SCA is adept at solar cooking and demonstrating the do's and don'ts of the practice and techniques.

We cooked a number of local dishes with solar cookers.

The fun part is showing people how local dishes, like rice shown here, cook perfectly in a solar cooker.

A proud participant shows off some solar cooked greens ~ "Sukoma Wiki" is a Ugandan staple, and cooks perfectly in a solar cooker.

Surprising most locals, the African dish of Ugali cooks amazingly well in a solar cooker, eliminating the time consuming pounding process with a mortar and pestle normally associated with this dish.

The workshop taught technical tips of solar cooking, like placing small rocks underneath the pot in the bag so that the heat reaches all areas of the pot.

Folding and unfolding the CooKit quickly was mastered as well.

Local dishes were served and the participants and onlookers were genuinely impressed by how well their local, everyday dishes turned out.

Participants enjoying a lunch of solar cooked food.

Olivia demonstrating some materials used to make a hay basket.

A hay basket, for those who don't know, is a great supplement to a solar cooker as it can keep food hot for over five hours. It can also cook food that has been brought to a boil over a regular fire. It's an amazingly simple and effective component to integrated cooking.

Women walk miles every day to gather water for cooking and drinking.

Unfortunately, the water they collect is often contaminated by feces, which causes the virus E-Coli and can cause serious disease.

It's a pretty safe bet that this water will be contaminated with the E-Coli virus, since there is cow dung in the water already.

This was, of course, one of the sources we tested.

...as women were filling their water jugs...

I only hope that some of the women who gather their water here will learn to pasteurize their water with a CooKit during the workshop, and understand the importance of this process.

These women and their kids drink this water every day.

Kids gathering water from a local piped water source.

This water actually came out okay, which is often the case with a water source that is piped from a deep well, since less chance of fecal contamination.

Less than a cup is gathered in a sterilized bag, to be taken back for testing.

These plastic jugs are better than the buckets used in some countries, since they can be covered until use.

Nobody wanted to test this water, since it was necessary to wade in a pool to get it. As a person who got schistosomiasis from wading in a running river in West Africa, I was none too keen on this process either... but you do what you gotta do!

After the fun of gathering the water samples in the village, we were ready to test it for E-Coli with the PML (Portable Microbiology Laboratory) created by our own board president, Dr. Bob Metcalf. The PML allows for accurate scientific testing of any water source without the need for a laboratory or even electricity.

These are the Whirlpaks ~ the sterile bags in which water samples are gathered.

The water is transferred from the Whirlpaks to test tubes already containing an E-Coli indicating powder, to test the presence of E-Coli.

The same water sample is then placed on a petrifilm (a portable petri-dish), to indicate the number of E-Coli present in a given sample.

The water is transferred with a sterile pipette.

1 ml is all that's needed to test on a petrifilm.

Members of SCA, some government representatives attending the workshop, participated in an informal water testing workshop at the facility where we stayed.

Each participant was responsible for incubating his/her own sample on their body overnight.

The following day we used the UV light to indicate the presence of E-Coli in the test tubes.

Max and I created an easy to understand chart for the workshop the following day.

With results of water testing with the PML, we were able to alert the people of the village to the dangers of drinking water from certain sources.

We explained some of the reasons for water contamination, and encouraged people in hygienic practices, including washing hands and making sure that no fecal matter of any kind is anywhere near their water source.

This segued nicely into the water pasteurization segment of the workshop, where we showed the participants how to make contaminated water safe to drink using only the CooKit, a WAPI (Water Pasteurization Indicator) and the sun.

Olivia did a great job of explaining that the WAPI is a reusable and inexpensive device, used by observing when the wax has melted (it's especially formulated to melt at 150 degrees F) in a pot of water.

We pasteurized water in 2 hours during the workshop, and were able to test the water again, proving the simplicity and effectiveness of simple solar water pasteurization.

A common sight in all parts of Africa, women walk many miles a day looking for wood to cook with.

This not only depletes local resources, but takes up a great deal of time that might be used for other things; i.e. income generation, planting of crops or sharing with family.

Charcoal stoves are cheap and effective, but most people don't realize how much wood it takes to make charcoal, or how polluting the process is to the air and environment.

These are two types of fuel-efficient stoves sold by SCA ~ the smaller is a charcoal burning "jiko" (meaning stove in Swahili) and the larger is a wood stove.

The fuel-efficient jiko burns less fuel due to a cupboard underneath the charcoal which maintains the heat supply.

A fuel-efficeint wood stove burns far less wood as a result of the design, keeping the twigs up off the ground and directing the heat towards the top of the chimney.

The twigs light quickly and food cooks faster.

The 6-Brick Rocket Stove is a similar design made completely from natural and locally found materials.

Mud bricks being made and dried in the sun.

Construction workers mixing mud to make bricks.

The bricks used in a 6-Brick Rocket Stove are supplemented with 'filler' organic materials, like hay, rice hulls or sawdust, to increase their insulating properties and retain and conduct heat better than regular mud bricks.

These few materials are all that are needed to build a 6-Brick Rocket Stove.

The bricks are shaved and cut to the appropriate size and shape.

The 6-Brick Rocket Stove is basically that ~ the 6 bricks are situated upright and in a circle to create a chimney.

The 6 bricks are fastened with a wire.

Then an intake is created with the remainder of the bricks to protect the fire from wind and ensure that it remains lit doesn't lose any heat through the front. The wood burns more slowly, using the unique design to maintain the maximum amount of heat and direct it solely to the pot.

Where with a normal cooking fire a number of good sized logs are needed, with a rocket stove you need only a few small twigs. Literally a fraction of the wood is needed to cook a meal versus traditional wood fires that lose heat in all directions.

The twigs light quickly due to their small size and lack of outside disturbance.

The fire is ablaze literally in seconds.

As soon as the stove is lit and the fire going, a pot of food or water can be placed on top and heats up quickly.

Because of the inductive quality of the adobe bricks, the stove is very cool to the touch ~ another reason why the Rocket Stove is a safer model to cook with in a village.

This water on the Rocket Stove was boiling in minutes ~ faster than any stove I've ever seen, including in the US!

A Rocket Stove next to a standard fuel-efficient stove. While the method of cooking with each stove is almost identical, the Rocket Stove is much more environmentally friendly and easier to make in most areas, since made with local materials.

Here are some great How To videos on How to Build a 16 Brick Rocket Stove and How to Build a Tin Can Rocket Stove ~ published by one of SCI's most active Board Memebers, Pat McArdle.

Olivia cutting out a CooKit.

One of the few male participants in the workshop, learning to make a CooKit.

Olivia of SCA showing participants how to cut out the design of the CooKit from cardboard, after foil has been pasted on.

Applying weather-sealing tape to CooKits during the workshop.

Workshop participants showing off CooKits made at the workshop.

A croud gathers for the Integrated Cooking demo put on before the Awards Ceremony in Obia.

Bam and Prissy of Aid Africa demonstrating the small amount of wood used to cook a full meal with a fuel-efficient Rocket Stove.

The three facilitators: me, Prissy of Aid Africa and Olivia of Solar Connect Association.

Set up for the Awards Ceremony, demonstrating solar cookers, fuel-efficient stoves and hay baskets, serving food, etc.

You can even cook an egg in a solar cooker! It was fun demonstrating to what seemed like the entire village how food can be cooked in a solar cooker, a fuel-efficient stove or a hay basket.

Father Inke is a Catholic priest in Ohio, and was instrumental in getting this project going in his village of Obia.

Prissy of Aid Africa demonstrates rice cooked in a Hay Basket.

Olivia of Solar Connect Association serving solar cooked food at the Awards Ceremony in Obia, following the 5-day Integrated Solar Cooking Workshop.



SCI Honored by Sac State University  |  June 10, 2008

SCI was recently honored by the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) at California State University Sacramento (CSUS) for bringing the benefits of solar cooking and water pasteurization to over 30,000 African families.

Bob Metcalf, president of the SCI Board of Directors and professor of microbiology at CSUS accepted the award at the center’s 17th annual Africa Peace Awards dinner. Other honorees included Jeanette Ndhlovu, consul-general of South Africa; Pastor Daniel Gebreselassie, a prison reform advocate from Addis Abba, Ethiopia; and Faye Kennedy of the Sacramento-area Black Caucus/Center for Collaborative Planning.

CACPR was established to provide conflict resolution and reconciliation services for agencies, governments, organizations, businesses communities and groups through training, education, research and intervention.


SUNCOOKERS film in June rotation on The Documentary Channel  |  June 2, 2008

Award-winning filmmaker Catherine Scott's inspiring documentary SUNCOOKERS follows Margaret Owino on a journey across western Kenya, visiting SCI’s solar cooking projects in Kakuma refugee camp and the community of Nyakach. Rated TVPG.

Viewing schedule (all times EST):

  • June 3rd 09:05 PM - 09:30 PM

  • June 3rd 11:00 PM - 11:30 PM

  • June 8th 07:00 PM - 07:30 PM

  • June 9th 01:00 AM - 01:30 AM

  • June 17th 06:30 PM - 07:00 PM

SUNCOOKERS is also available for purchase in DVD format. Extras include solar cooker construction plans, interviews with solar advocates, global slideshow, solar recipes, bonus footage, and Spanish subtitles.



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