Last edited: 15 July 2020
The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoAREC), based in Addis Ababa has implemented (with support from the EU Energy Facility) an "Integrated Approach to Meet Rural Household Energy Needs" in three regions of Ethiopia. Solar Cooking The Netherlands - KoZon (SCN), which has been involved in the promotion of Integrated Cooking Method (ICM) technologies in Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia, is one of the implementing organizations. ICM includes the use of a solar cooker, a fuel-efficient woodstove, a heat-retention basket and a Water Pasteurization Indicator.
- NEW: 15-17 September 2021: Climate Chance Summit Africa 2021 - Registration is open to attend the virtual 3rd edition of the Climate Chance Africa Summit. Three days of sessions on key themes and sectors of climate action hosted by non-state actors engaged in climate change in Africa. There is no charge for attendance, but registration is required
- NEW: Friday, 17 September 2021 (10:30am CDT, 15:30 GMT): Homeschool program on solar cooking - The Syracuse-Turkey Creek Township Public Library, in Syracuse, Indiana, USA, offers online programs for homeschool students on Fridays at 10:30am. This program is described as learning to build and use a solar cooker. Read more...
- NEW: 5 October 2021: American made solar competition - The U.S. Dept. of Energy is sponsoring a a multi-part competition to spur solar manufacturing, develop innovative solar solutions and products, and create domestic jobs and opportunities through public-private partnerships. The contest is open to U.S. residents, and the final phase is still open for submittals until 5 October 2021. Much of the attention has been with photovoltaic solutions, and this last phase is structured with two tracks that focus separately on hardware and software components. Solar cooking equipment should qualify as hardware solutions. Read more about the competition...
- NEW: 22-26 November 2021: 2nd National Congress for Solar Drying and Cooking Food - An affiliated group of universities in Mexico will host an online conference relating to solar food drying and cooking, as well as, food safety and energy savings realized with minimal environmental impact. Participants can register to view the presentations, or apply for presentation consideration. The conference will be in Spanish. Registration information... - (English version)
- 17-23 December 2021: Solar Cooking Awareness Week (Southern Hemisphere) - A loosely organized bid to acknowledge the fun and benefits of solar cooking. Show someone how to solar cook and share a meal.
- 24-26 January 2022: Fourth International Conference: Advances in Solar Thermal Food Processing - CONSOLFOOD Chairman, Celestino Ruivo, has announced an extended call for abstracts for the upcoming conference in January 2022, which is now planned to be an online event. Advances in solar cooking as well as solar food processing will be considered for inclusion. The event schedule and submission requirements are in CONSOLFOOD 2022 conference information.
- May 2017: Contribute your data: Drive solar cooking results - Solar cooking contributes to long-term progress from cleaner, more efficient, sustainable cooking solutions worldwide. It is crucial to convey the positive health, economic, and environmental impacts of solar cooking to government agencies and other stakeholders. To help build this case, SCI is reaching out to all solar cooking partners. SCI invites your input in the form of data on baseline information, number and type of solar cookers, number of years of the project, location, outcomes, etc. With your help, we can work to include solar-thermal cooking in national energy and sustainability plans. You provide:
- Number of solar cookers
- Time period
- Submit your solar cooking data by filling out the simple form on the Solar Cookers International website or email email@example.com.
- February 2017: A week long training of trainers held at the graduate building of the College of Natural and Computational Sciences (NCS) of Addis Ababa University, which focused on solar cooker and solar PV panel production and assembly, came to a close on 27 February 2017. The training entitled “The way ahead with renewable energy: a role for Ethiopia” was organized by Nation to Nation Networking Ltd (NNN) in collaboration with the NCS to expand solar energy consumption in remote areas across Ethiopia. Read more...
- January 2016: Solar Cooking the Netherlands - KoZon reports: "An extensive EU Renewable Energy Technology project (RET) was started in Ethiopia in 2001 of which Integrated Solar Cooking (ISC) is part. In total 20 RET workshops have been built in six provinces across Ethiopia. Production and distribution (sale) of solar, biogas and wood-saving cooking appliances started at the end of 2015. In 2014 and 2015 large-scale public promotion and training of local employees took place. At the same time a start was made with the marketing of solar lamps and small solar panels (to charge cell phones, radios). The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-ReC/N), a department of Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Addis Ababa manages the project. Solar Cooking the Netherlands (SCN), as a partner in this project, is since 2011 responsible for the transfer of ISC and has contributed financially on a yearly basis. In 2011 SCN appointed Fikirte Regassa Beyene as its representative and solar cooking expert in Ethiopia. Today Fikirte R.B. is still in office as project officer and member of HoA-ReC/N's Energy staff. In 2012 a Solar Cooking business was set up in the community of Awura Amba (North Ethiopia). Its implementation is in the hands of the NGO ORDA in collaboration with the village's staff. A large ISC workshop was built in 2013. Currently a lot of effort is put into the marketing and sale of ISC cooking appliances." Read more...
The solar cooking work at the Aisha Refugee Camp was initiated at the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, through a staff member named Christopher Talbot who had seen the project in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. At that particular time, the UNHCR was being severely criticized for the massive destruction of forests caused by refugees from the southern Africa civil wars in Mozambique and Angola. A UN "pledging" meeting had been held for the purpose of raising millions of dollars to restore terrain ravaged by refugees in camps run by UNHCR in that part of Africa. Funds were in fact given for additional refugee work, of course, but with the strong admonition to UNHCR and its allied organizations and governments to take great care to see that damage to the environs of camps from uncontrolled collecting of firewood by refugees be strictly curtailed. UNHCR was thus urgently seeking solutions. Seeing the solar cooking project in Kakuma led them to undertake an experimental program in a small camp in an isolated corner of Ethiopia.
The camp's inhabitants are almost entirely refugees from nearby Somalia; the camp is located near enough to the border that it was even possible for refugees to make visits to their former homes from time to time. The area was one with limited forest cover even at the time the camp was established, and soon the landscape was nearly desolate. Refugees who at first could make a fuel gathering trip and back in a/day soon had to change to a pattern of using draft animals to go longer distances requiring two or three day trips. Fuel gathering thus ceased to be one in which women and children gathered wood nearby to one in which commercial arrangements were made by entrepreneurs who hired woodcutters and draft animals, then sold the wood to refugees. The difference was immaterial to the environment, of course, which suffered substantially from both practices.
Aisha was not large, as refugee camps go. It housed around 2,000 households and between 14,000-15,000 individuals. The site itself was far from Addis Ababa, both difficult and time consuming to reach. But the site also offered a place where need was great, where sunshine was abundant, where the population was relatively stable (for a refugee camp), and where careful and detailed evaluation would be possible. A baseline study of fuelwood use was done for later comparison, and the project began in 1998.
The project in Aisha continued until 2002, by which time all refugees who were interested had been supplied with cookers and trained in cooker usage. Refugee women and men were trained to be the trainers of others and an Ethiopian coordinator oversaw the project for SCI. Before formally closing the work as an SCI sponsored project, a final evaluation of the project was undertaken by an Ethiopian social scientist, with noteworthy results. About 95% of all householders in the camp used solar cookers, at least part of the time. Spending for fuel declined by 42% from pre-project days.
Refugees spend substantially less time gathering wood, allowing children to attend school and women to engage in community and income generating activity. Additional details of the project's operation, management, and outcomes are provided for the reader in the case study on this project. Aisha Solar Cooking Project
- Main article: History of solar cooking
Climate and culture
Solar Cookers International has rated Ethiopia as the #4 country in the world in terms of solar cooking potential (See: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential). The estimated number of people in Ethiopia with fuel scarcity but ample sun in 2020 is 24,200,000.
Climate makes a big difference in how much value is derived from solar cookers. All of Ethiopia is close enough to the equator to get plenty of solar power whenever the sun is shining (not counting the first hour or so after sunrise and before sunset). To get more good use from solar cookers, one wants not only ample hours of sunshine during daylight, but predictable sunshine--reducing the guess work about whether one's food will cook with solar power today or not. With the lower cost cookers made of cardboard, surprise rain can also damage the cookers severely.
In one of our field projects--in Kakuma, in northwestern Kenya--our field staff kept track of the weather on a daily basis for years and figured there were about 200 sunny days good for solar cooking in that climate. People could reduce their use of combustible fuels by 40% or more annually with that number of sunny days, and the people who learned solar cooking were grateful. They were using the low power, cardboard CooKit type cookers.
Twelve months of sunshine is not a necessary condition for successful solar cooking. But clearly, 300 sunny days per year will enable more fuel savings than 200, and 200 will be better than 120. How does one decide whether the local climate is sunny enough? From an economic point of view, it would depend on the cost of the cookers over their lifetime compared to the amount of fuel they would save over their life time and the price of that fuel. So one can afford to pay more for cooker A compared to cooker B if cooker A lasts sufficiently longer or if it saves more fuel. Also, one can pay more for cookers and still save money on fuel costs in places where fuel prices are higher.
The question becomes very local. How much sun do I get, at what time of the day, when do I cook, how many people do I cook for at once, how much does cooking fuel cost?
As far as I know, there is no definitive science that tells us the cost/benefit ratios for the many different variations on solar cookers that exist today, nor can it be said that cooker X is definitely best for this climate or that economic niche. A process of discovery is gradually unfolding. Making choices for your project will not be fool-proof, but familiarity with local conditions, habits and attitudes coupled with reasoning and gathering feedback from a variety of sources should help. Also, it would be great to talk to the people who will be doing the cooking to find out how they feel about switching to a new system and what sort of system they would want.
When one thinks of cooking in Ethiopia, one thinks immediately of njera bread, which must be cooked with fairly high heat. If the ethnic groups you work with are not eating an njera-based diet, then you probably don't have a problem--but if njera is a staple, then you will need to be sure that your cooking system can handle it. Open "panel cookers" like SCI's CooKit are not njera-friendly, and neither are the simpler, home-made box cookers. Parabolic cookers should be able to cook njera. I would think the Scheffler reflector system would have no problem making njera bread, but I think I would double check with the designers and be sure to include temperatures suitable for njera when you discuss your specifications for what you want. The type of fluid (and its particular boiling point) that circulates carrying heat in a Scheffler system could make an important difference in the maximum cooking temperatures you could get, and therefore those desired temperatures would be something to discuss with designers of Scheffler type systems.
Availability of materials
- Cardboard: Locally produced cardboard is available, but it is of very poor quality.
- Aluminum foil: Needs to be imported.
- Plastic bags: Heat-resistant bags are produced locally.
- See Solar Bereket for more information on obtaining these materials.
- Wikipedia article on the climate of Ethiopia
- Ethiopia Energy Situation - Energypedia
- The foods of Ethiopia
- Discussion of eastern Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
Articles in the media
- March 2017: Women's History Month Spotlight: Abaynesh Asrat's Vision for Ethiopia Solar Energy - Tadias
- March 2017: Ethiopia: Improving Citizens' Life Style - The Ethiopian Herald
- December 2015: India's Solar Initiative and the Challenge of Climate-Safe Development - Living on Earth
- July 2014: Durable High Power Panel Type Solar Cooker and Its Effectiveness Study in Ethiopia - Yuichi Nakajo
- November 2009: First Recording of ISSC Project Essentials and Proceedings, a review of completed projects by SCN in various African countries.
- June 2006: Lasting Impacts of Solar Cooking Projects in Ethiopia - Melanie Szulczewski, Ph. D.
- April 2006: Summary of Lasting Impacts of Solar Cooker Projects - Solar Household Energy, Inc. - A general summary of long-term effects of solar cooker use in refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Bolivia.
- January 2003: Aisha Solar Cooking Project, Aisha refugee camp, Ethiopia - Evaluation Report to Solar Cookers International - This report summarizes the state of the Aisha Solar Cooking Project which was started in 1997 by Solar Cookers International. It includes discussions of the preparation, planning, in-camp assessments, and feed-back meetings from the assessment conducted in late 2001.
- October 2001: Executive Summary of a Solar Oven Promotion Program In Ethiopia: 1997 - 1999 at the Aisha Refugee Camp - A review of findings from and Solar Cookers International study in the Aisha Refugee Camp to determine the effects of solar cooker use on fuel wood savings.
- November 1998: Evaluation of Energy-Saving Options for Refugees - UNHCR-Geneva
- Main article: Project evaluations
- August 2016: Solar Cooking Potential in Horn of Africa Refugee Camps Stanford University 2013: Robert Firme, Hunter Ploch, Travis Edwards
- Baking Injera - Stichting Solar Cooking Nederland
- Injerra high temperature Solar Cookers for Ethiopia, a Preliminary Review- Arnold Leufkens and Clara Thomas (SCN)
- A comprehensive guide to solar cooking produced by Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands is now available. Included are sections on the use of the solar CooKit oven, a water pasteurization instrument(WAPI), a heat retention cooking basket, and also information on cooking for a six person household. See more information at: Integrated Sustainable Solar Cooking
Audio and video
- January 2010:
The entities listed below are either based in Ethiopia, or have established solar cooking projects there:
- Main article: Solar Cookers International Association