Solar Cookers International’s Work
for Disaster Preparedness

People often contact Solar Cookers International after disasters (Haiti earthquake, 2010; Hurricane Huyan, 2014; Nepal earthquake, 2015; Caribbean Hurricanes 2017) to ask if SCI will organize a shipment of solar cookers to the affected region.  People have an urgent desire to help alleviate fellow human beings’ suffering, and want to help make things better.  SCI itself is driven by this basic principal. 

Wanting to help, and understanding the value of a locally available energy source for cooking food and pasteurizing water is critical during emergencies.  Those are times when the fuel supply is disrupted, and energy needs are greater than ever.  Solar energy is captured and used locally—as locally as someone’s yard—and is less likely therefore to be interrupted by damage to infrastructure or supply chains. 

However, beginning to use a new technology in a complex emergency situation adds layers of complexity.

Important factors to consider when responding to crisis

-Logistics for distribution can be chaotic, as supply chains are ruptured
-Transportation infrastructure can be damaged
-If food supply is limited, people may be reluctant to explore a new cooking device
-Community-based partners must often prioritize their focus on survival, and their family’s immediate health and safety
-Stress, grief, and/or personal suffering may limit a person’s intellectual and emotional resources to explore new technology

Having a solar cooking device, and knowing how to use it well, are essential for successful solar cooking and water pasteurization after a disaster.  For most of the world’s citizens, solar cooking is still a new technology requiring 1) training and 2) follow-up for successful use.  Often, after a disaster, trainers aren’t available and follow-up is often impossible.

Solutions: partnership and advocacy

Teaching people to make and use solar cookers for regular use is an ideal way to prevent or reduce human suffering in the aftermath of a crisis.  Solar Cookers International’s strategy to alleviate human suffering in the aftermath of crises or disasters is to continue its current work with global partners to spread solar cooking worldwide as quickly and effectively as resources permit, and to increase our global network of solar cooking partners.  Increasing the number of people who make, use, and teach others to solar cook increases the world’s capability to respond effectively after a disaster.  This will assure that solar cookers and local expertise are immediately available, locally, when needed. 

SCI works hard to build the capacity and strength of our partners to ensure that beneficial, sustainable, and appropriate solar cooking technology is available and usable, both in times of disaster and always.  For example, SCI continues to maintain the largest digital resource on solar cooking, the Solar Cooking Wiki.  This ensures people have access to the technology and knowledge about solar cooking before a disaster strikes.

SCI has provided funding for solar cooking project partners in Nepal (Foundation for Sustainable Technologies, or FoST) since 2013.  Former Nepalese workshop participants have solar cookers, and know how to use them.  Having the knowledge and tools gave these women an advantage when the disaster struck.  They are not wholly dependent on deliveries of LP gas, and are not wholly dependent on wood so they are not exposed to further risk, needing to wander into the countryside during a period of frequent aftershocks.  These solar cooks already have a device to capture solar energy for their most basic needs: cooking and making water safe to drink. 

Through its role as an international advocate, for example with its consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, SCI continues to advocate to have solar cooking considered and implemented appropriately in development and disaster preparedness programs. 

SCI is driven to continue this work, in the way it is most effective:  preparing communities before disaster strikes. 

SCI needs your help to continue this vital work.  All donations to Solar Cookers International ultimately help prepare people to cook food and pasteurize contaminated drinking water, in daily life and during times of crisis when it’s a matter of life or death. You can support this work by making a gift to SCI at http://solarcookers.org/donate/  For more information, please contact info@solarcookers.org.