Solar Cooking
Last edited: 30 May 2022      

Solar Cooking in Kenya

In 2019, Solar Cookers International provided 300 people with solar cookers and the training to use them in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.


Africities summit logo 2, 4-28-22.jpg
  • NEW: 17-21 May 2022 (Kisumu): 9th Africities Summit - “The Role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the Implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063”. Kisumu is the first ever intermediary city to host the 9th Africities Summit. The previous 8th Africities edition, held in Marrakesh from 20 to 24 November 2018 in Morocco, registered attendance topped a record of 8,300 participants. A Farmers With A Vision project has been nominated by the Kenya Climate Inovation Centre to exhibit.
  • NEW:  12-14 July 2023 (A Coruña, Spain): CONSOLFOOD2023 - Organizers have released a first call for abstracts to participate in the Fifth International Conference, taking place in Spain in 2023 as an in-person conference. The deadline for submission is 15 December 2022. More submittal information...
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in Kenya

Significant project[]

Refugees from Sudan are trained by Solar Cookers International in the use of their new CooKit solar cookers.

  • The Kakuma Refugee Camp was the first to receive a large scale solar cooking project - The Kakuma Refugee Camp was formed in 1972 when Sudanese refugees first arrived in Kakuma, Kenya. Introducing solar cooking to the camp was Solar Cookers International’s first and largest refugee project, beginning in January 1995. Kakuma had considerable refugee turnover, but by 2004, when Solar Cookers International (SCI) concluded the project, the camp had tripled in size to nearly 90,000 refugees. Though rapid growth posed problems for assisting all those who wanted to solar cook, SCI ultimately served over 15,000 families. This project was one of the earliest to use the CooKit solar panel cooker to introduce solar cooking. The program also extended solar cooker technology to schools, especially primary schools, through demonstrations, poems, songs and drama.


The Solar Education Project reports that Grace Chepkemei shared her skill and knowledge about solar cooking and heat-retention basket cooking, Photo credit: Solar Education Project

Heat-retention cooking baskets were constructed at the workshop.Photo credit: Solar Education Project

Solar tunnel dryer designed by Bernhard Müller for his partners in Kenya and Uganda Photo credit: Bernhard Müller

  • January 2022: Solar tunnel dryer design for Kenya and Uganda: - Bernhard Müller offered his design skills in helping to create a new solar tunnel dryer for his partners in Kenya and Uganda. A 10W solar panel powers a fan providing air flow, and enables the people who work with the dryer to charge their phones simultaneously.

Solar cooking demonstration in Mwandogo by Penina Nzioka

  • September 2021: Solar cooking demonstration in Mwandogo - Penina Nzioka conducted a workshop to demonstrate the potential of solar box cookers in her hometown, located nearby to Mombasa.
  • June 2021: Taxes help and hinder solar cooker sales in Kenya - Previously, there has been a value-added tax on the purchase of raw materials used for manufacturing solar cookers within the country. Amounting to roughly 16% in additional cost, manufacturers said the savings will be passed on to the consumer. However the government has also removed the tax exemption for clean cooking appliances, as well as other less polluting technologies. This will discourage wider adoption, and slow the improvement of air quality. Still widely used, charcoal, retains its tax exempt status. Read more...

Millicent Anyango's display of stoves and fireless cookers in Migori County, Kenya

  • May 2021: Bernhard Müller reports in the AfriShiners Newsletter that Millicent Anyango maintains a supply of Baba Moto improved combustion stoves and fireless cookers from her location in Migori County, Kenya. She also organizes clean-cooking and fireless cooking workshops throughout western Kenya. Penina Nzioka, another AfriShiner member from Mwandogo nearby to Mombasa, trains the women in her village in the use of fireless cookers, and how to process coconut oil in a solar box cooker.
SCI Order of Excellence, Republic of Kenya, 3-21.png
  • March 2021: The Solar Cookers International Order of Excellence annual award for 2020 has been given to the Republic of Kenya for including solar cooking in its Voluntary National Review (VNR) to track progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The award recognizes the most outstanding people and organizations whose sustained efforts have  contributed most to empowering people to cook food and pasteurize water with solar energy. 

John Amayo conducted a workshop on the Integrated Cooking Method in Kisumu, Kenya. Photo credit: John Amayo

  • December 2020: Samuel of Asulma Centre, in conjunction with Didacus Pius Odhiambo of Farmers with a Vision, train Grace Mubi and Sarah Ndunyo, of Shambani Millers Self Help Group, and a group of villagers from Kitui, Kenya, about the techniques of Integrated Solar Cooking.
Gallery photo credit: Farmers with a Vision
  • March 2020: Global Off-Grid Solar Forum & Expo - The three day forum and exposition opened in Nairobi on February 18th with many contributing experts from various parts of the world. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, was also present on the first day of the Expo to assure his government's enthusiastic support for the development of off-grid solar products for use in Kenya. The science of solar cooking and e-cooking were also featured topics of discussion at the forum. More information...

Kakuma residents with on of the Heliac solar cookers provided by Solar Cookers International

  • November 2019: Community bakery - reports that one of their solar array cookers, first put into use in 2017 in the Kisumu area, in Kenya is still in use. It was later transferred to Friends of Ndere, a very active baking community, which already had a GoSol concentrator. In spite of this being one an early pilot unit, they are still using this unit to bake bread. Below is a video in Swahili showing the concentrator in action. More information...

SOL5 Technology - Solar Energy for SMEs

Solar Energy for SMEs (English)


Friends of Ndere-0

A video in Swahili showing the concentrator in action

Farmers with a Vision cooking in front of store

The Performance Evaluation Process in action

  • June 2019: Solar Cookers International opens new PEP testing center at the University of Nairobi, Kenya - SCI’s PEP test allows manufacturers and consumers to know the cooking power of solar cookers without brand bias and to develop a baseline for comparison. PEP testing demonstrates to solar cooker users and investors the power, in watts, they can expect from a specific model of solar cooker. SCI PEP results are trustworthy because the PEP test is based on an internationally accepted protocol for testing and reporting solar cooker performance. SCI also has centers in Lalitpur, Nepal; New York, USA; and California, USA. Having global locations for SCI PEP testing centers is important to advancing the adoption of solar cooking worldwide and affirms SCI’s role as the leader within the solar cooking sector. Local testing of solar cookers supports the regional economy, job growth and builds capacity in the sector. [1]

Refugee women with a Heliac Solar Cooker

  • June 2019: Solar Cookers International has recently brought life-saving solar cooking to more than 300 people in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Before you stepped in, women were often forced to sell their precious food rations for cooking fuel, putting their children at risk of malnutrition. If they dared to journey outside of the camp to collect firewood, they risked violence.

Fireless cooker workshop held at the Armstrong Women Empowerment Centre in Rabuor under the direction of Faustine Odaba. Photo credit: John Amayo

Photo credit: Bernhard Müller

Roger Haines meets with the Alliance for African Assistance to discuss distributing solar cookers in Uganda. - Photo credit: Roger Haines

Plastic bags in trash in Kenya, photo credit- Daniel Irungu-EPA.png
  • October 2017: Kenya brings in world's toughest plastic bag ban - Producing, selling and using plastic bags becomes illegal as officials say they want to target manufacturers and sellers first. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy Read more... Primarily aimed at single use plastic bags, this may be a game changer for solar panel cookers, which typically use plastic oven cooking bags as greenhouse enclosures. See: Polypropylene food container alternate to plastic bag glazing
  • September 2017: Webinar: Solar Cooking Sector Updates Refugee Working Group Call - SCI sponsored the refugee working group phone conversation on 21 September as part of the Sector Updates webinar. Godfrey Mawira submitted a summary of current projects in Kenya from the Eco-mandate Group. Eco-mandate efforts in Kenya - Godfrey Mawira

Faustine Odaba demonstrates how a parabolic cooker works well with a fireless basket, at the Korando Educational Center in Kisumu, Kenya. Photo credit: Better Me Foundation

  • May 2017: Solar cookers complement each other - Faustine Odaba shared her extensive solar cooking experience at the Korando Educational Center in Kisumu, Kenya. She uses two solar thermal technologies, working together, to cook efficiently for large groups. A parabolic cooker is good at bringing a large pot of food quickly up to cooking temperature, then the pot can be transferred to a fireless basket to continue cooking, while the parabolic cooker can begin heating pother foods.
  • 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
  • Type
  • Location
  • Time period
  • Distributed
  • Sold
  • Manufactured
Submit your solar cooking data by filling out a simple form on the Solar Cookers International website or email

Kakuma refugee camp setting the pace in use of renewable energy

  • April 2017: On April 29, 2017, a solar cooking festival for 500 schoolchildren was held at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The idea was originated by three of the participants at the 6th SCI World Conference 2017, put on in January by Solar Cookers International in Gujarat, India. Roger Haines, CEO of Haines Solar Cookers, Ritesh Raithatha, CEO of Simplified Technologies for Life, and Godfrey Mawira Kaburu, an engineer with the World Food Program in Nairobi. At the Gujarat conference, Godfrey presented the results of his study showing that in October, 2016, solar cooking was the second-most preferred method of cooking at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, even though very few solar cookers were available. To create an inexpensive, durable cooker for the festival, Roger collaborated with Sharon Clausson, designer of the Copenhagen Solar Cooker, to design the “Haines-Copenhagen” cooker using Roger’s metallized polyester (MPET) foam reflector, and a UV-resistant polycarbonate Haines Cooking Sleeve. The cookers were made in Kakuma by refugees from materials donated by Haines Solar Cookers, and should last 10 years with proper care. Ritesh’s company, Simplified Technologies for Life, has produced “Suryakumbh” solar cooking festivals for almost 120,000 participants in India, and holds the Guinness Record for the most people solar cooking at the same time: 7,438. Ritesh and his colleague, Vivek Kabra, provided expertise and leadership for the festival. Godfrey put together a team of experts, including Mwenda Wilkinson, who handled the logistical, financial, and personnel details. The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) generously donated the services of Raphael Nyabala and Wilson Kinyua and many others to recruit the children and provide facilities and transportation. Funding was provided by Haines Solar Cookers and the San Diego, California, Rotary Club. Additional support and resources came from Solar Household Energy (SHE), a Washington, DC solar cooking organization. Other partners included Eco-Mandate, which sells solar cookers in Chuka, Kenya, the Alliance for African Assistance, a San Diego-based refugee resettlement organization, and the Rotaract Club of the University of California, San Diego, which made 500 Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPIs) for the Festival participants. Training was provided by Faustine “Mama Solar” Odaba, and her Nairobi NGO, NAREWAMA. Significantly, Ms. Odaba had been one of the trainers in 1995 when SCI first introduced solar cookers in Kakuma. Before the festival, 50 refugee women were trained to use the cookers, and they in turn trained the children. The festival took place at Hope Primary School in Kakuma Camp Four. During the festival, “Mama Solar” set up fifteen cookers and cooked a wide variety of food, including rice, vegetables chicken, eggs, cabbage, ugali, beans and cake. The children sat in neat rows as trainers handed out the cookers, cooking pots, food and water. Each child assembled their own cooker, and successfully cooked delicious noodles before an enthusiastic crowd of family members and relatives. The children were elated and proudly showed off their new cookers. Follow up studies are planned, and Roger Haines is working with a local entrepreneur to offer Haines-Copenhagen solar cookers for sale in Kakuma for a sustainable price of around $25 USD.
  • February 2017: A Kenyan court ruling has blocked the government’s decision to close Dadaab Refugee Camp in November 2017. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp and home to more than 200,000 Somalians.
See older news...


Possible funders[]

Facebook groups[]

Project evaluations[]


Articles in the media[]

Audio and video[]

  • February 2020:

Solar Cooking in Kenya

  • May 2017:
  • January 2017:
  • January 2017:
  • 2014:

Solvatten Kakuma, Kenya

  • December 2014:

Fireless Cookers complement Solar Cookers-0

Solar Cooking: What if the Sun does not Shine?

  • March 2013:
  • August 2010:

Cooking with sun

  • February 2008:

Tusk Trust Documentary - 13 Solar Energy

Tusk Trust documentary of introducing the CooKit in Kenya in 2008.

Documents in local languages[]


Climate and culture[]

Solar Cookers International has rated Kenya as the #13 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 Kenya with fuel scarcity but ample sun in 2020 is 5,900,000. Solar cooking must be introduced in an area with sunshine for at least 6-9 months a year for the technology to be deemed useful. Highlands are often cloudy and overcast and so people tend to go back to their old ways.

Fuelwood provides 79% of Kenya’s total energy use. Each day Kenyans burn 37 million kilos of wood and 6 million kilos of charcoal.

Statistics indicate that nearly 25 per cent daily income of urban folks is spent on fuel. This money could be channeled into more pressing needs like education, medicine, housing or other investments if this new technology were to be embraced.

Mattias Goldmann of the NGO Tricorona reports that he was told that several Kenyan tribes have a "strong taboo" against cooking outside.[2]

Dinah Chienjo of Friends of the Old reports, "The people have since time immemorial believed that water was blessed from the beginning and cannot cause any diseases but through the education and by showing them the results of the tested waters and telling them the dangers of the germs on the body, they are beginning to change their drinking habits and looking back many people agree that the many stomach related diseases they have suffered in the past have been a result of the bad river or pond water they have been drinking." See Water pasteurization.

The Kenyan government has banned the use of plastic bags. This makes the use of these as a glazing in a solar cooker impossible. See alternatives to plastic bags in the Glazing article.

See also[]


Each group of items costs the same as does the pile of charcoal shown. By using a CooKit or other solar cooker, people can buy food instead of fuel.

Kenya has been the center of solar cooking activity in East Africa. A number of organizations have endeavored to promote the technology in this country, which has been the commercial hub of the area for several decades. Its capital, Nairobi, is also well served by air, making access to the nation and region readily available, using Nairobi as entry point.

Gemeinshaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GZT) and Trans World Radio

The promotion of solar energy is decades old in Kenya. As far back as 1977, GTZ (the Germany's official technical aid agency) initiated and later abandoned a project in Nairobi. The reason given had to do with the fact that the products used were made in Germany, and were not available in East Africa. Two different Catholic missions in rural Kenya tried solar cooking introduction, but no information is available on the outcomes. As early as 1991, a few solar ovens were exported to Tanzania (through Trans World Radio, perhaps), indicating that the product presented a business opportunity. In 1992, an Earthwatch grant permitted an academic, Dr. Daniel Kammen, to begin a multi-year study of renewable energy technologies, including solar cookers, using volunteers in short-term Earthwatch projects.

Other early efforts included the work of Trans World Radio to promote solar use, within the Girl Guides organization. It was a large project begun under the auspices of the Institute for Cultural Affairs, and also with the effort of a remarkable Peace Corp Volunteer. In the mid-1990s, with assistance of Solar Cookers International (SCI), a national coordinating body for the purpose of sharing information and strengthening progress by collective action around the topic of solar cooking was formed in Nairobi.

Among those early efforts was the activity of Trans World Radio (TWR). TWR work began in the early 1990s. A conference proceedings on Renewable Energy Policies in East Africa, held in 1993, included a paper by TWR coordinator [[Clive Wafukho]] on their work in solar cooking. This organization promoted solar cooking on its radio programs, made and sold box cookers in the Nairobi environs, and worked also in a distant refugee camp. They pioneered solar cooking in Kakuma Refugee Camp, where SCI later established another project. TRW estimated that in the period between 1992 and 2001, they distributed a total of 2,350 cookers in the camp and other localities in Kenya. Logistics and staff support were always problems in the remote areas. In 2000, there was an attempt to solve that problem with the training of refugees as carpenters to be able to build the cookers within the camp itself. TRW reported the production of 400 cookers.

The cookers were large and well suited to the needs of the Sudanese population living in extended family compounds, and required cooking for 10-20 people daily. Trans-World Radio demonstrated remarkable staying power in this difficult to serve area, which had a population that could not afford to buy the expensive box cookers. Therefore, most were given away free, with funds raised for the most part outside of Africa. TWR estimated that two-thirds of the cookers are used regularly.

Barbara Ross, Peace Corps volunteer

In roughly the same time period, U.S.Peace Corps volunteer, Barbara Ross, was assigned to an area in western Kenya. Her responsibilities were varied, but, but aside frome of her assigned tasks, she began to promote of solar cooking. Ms. Ross recruited and trained a number of women where she worked, who then formed themselves into a Housewives' Club, and proceeded in turn to teach others. They made solar box cooker of cardboard, which worked very well in a propitious climate, and solar cooking was on its way in this part of Kenya.

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

The interest of Girl Guides with solar cooking also goes back to roughly the same time period. An early training program was initiated in Kenya by Barby Pulliam, chief promoter of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Little remains of that single demonstration, but it did serve as a foundation for later work that was developed more fully in the late 1990s. An interesting offshoot of that program was a unique program begun by a Girl Guide troop in Kakuma refugee camp. It was run by individuals originally inspired by the work of Ms. Pulliam.

Institute for Cultural Affair

The Institute for Cultural Affairs, (ICA), which had a long term presence in the development community, focused on empowering local communities to define their own needs and plan their own development strategies. Solar cooking was somewhat of a side interest for ICA, though obviously related to its larger mission. To carry out the solar cooking mission, a Swiss volunteer, long interested and skilled in the technology and in training others, joined the Nairobi staff of ICA, for the specific purpose of promoting solar cooking. ICA created a solar box cooker construction course at a local technical school, which ultimately produced all the cookers used by ICA in the communities where they worked. ICA used a classical community development approach in their work. In community meetings, workers persuaded community members to define their needs and existing barriers, which prevent adoption of solar cooking. Fuel shortage was a major problem, and hence solar cooking promotion became an ongoing part of the program in many areas of Kenya. Unfortunately, the solar activity more or less ceased after the very effective volunteer returned to her home.

The agencies described above formed the core of the solar cooking consortium formed in 1994, with some financial aid from SCI. The purpose of the consortium formed around solar cooking was to share information with one another, and to enlist additional person power for promotional activities. SCI provided financial and moral support to the effort for some years. One conference was held in Nairobi, and one in outstate Kenya, with the hope of involving additional people in the effort. Ultimately, the logic of solar power technologys dictated that purveyors and promoters of photovoltaic technologies would also be included in the group. Over time, and after finally achieving NGO status in Kenya (not an easy task), the organization came to be dominated by the larger and considerably-more powerful community of business and industrial photovoltaic personnel in Kenya and thus of less value to solar cooking promoters.

Solar Cookers International, Kakuma refugee camp

Shortly after the creation of the consortia arrangement in 1994, SCI accepted an invitation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to embark on a demonstration project in a refugee camp. The story of the project in the Kakuma refugee camp has been recounted elsewhere, therefore recounting here will be brief. The program was carefully planned (insofar as that was possible for an organization, which had not previously worked in an overseas setting) and carefully monitored throughout the project. Kakuma is located in the semi-arid Rift Valley in the far northeast corner of the nation, reachable only by air (or 20 hours on a rickety bus). The camp grew from what seemed a very large 28,000 initially to almost 100,000 at one point, with major changes in the ethnic makeup. Logistical problems were always difficult, as the camp, being so remote, was not easily accessible. Eventually, a Kenyan staff was formed, and the camp work in 2004 (8 long years later), phasing into a refugee-run cooperative with similar purposes to the original SCI project, i.e., a demonstration that people in need can and will adopt solar cooking, save fuel and scarce financial resources, while inflicting less harm on the already fragile environment.

After a successful start at Kakuma camp, Solar Cookers International was invited to initiate a similar project at remote Aisha refugee camp in Ethiopia.

The November 2003 issue of Solar Cooker Review carries to recount of Sunshine does let them eat cake about a woman refugee, Mumina Baraka, who has operated a small scale bakery in Kakuma, selling in small quantities to make a living, and to provide baked goods for other refugees to purchase. She planned to take her CooKit back to Ethiopia with her when that became feasible.

Somewhat later, a Rotary project in Nairobi was started, but turned out to be less than wholly successful, perhaps showing the difficulty of working in urban areas. Need is considerable, but space, security of food and cooker, etc. are difficult issues in congested poorer urban areas.

During the early years of the Kakuma camp program, the solar cooking program generated considerable interest in refugee circles. All visitors were taken to the training sites and, when advance notice made it possible, given a meal cooked by the sun. SCI's refugee coordinator, a Zairean woman who spoke excellent English, became almost a camp staff person, and was frequently called on to accompany visitors, to translate for them, and to provide demonstrations. One of the visitors in the early years was a UNHCR staff person from the head offices of the UN agency in Geneva. He was integral to beginning the program in Ethiopia. In addition, he discussed the possibility with SCI of working in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, located on the Somali border, to the east and north of Nairobi. That camp, almost entirely Somali in population, was far bigger than Kakuma (with about 100,000 residents) and differently structured, with three separate sub-camps, each located at a distance from the central offices of the organizations which served the camp.

Dadaab refugee camp

The camp administrator in Dadaab was enthusiastic about starting a solar cooking program. Activities directed at energy conservation were well underway in the camp, under the direction of the German technical assistance agency, Deutsche Gemeinshaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), which had been implementing an improved stove program for some years. That program used an interesting model of "work for a stove" in which individuals were given 25 tree seedlings to plant and cultivate at their own homestead. At the end of three months, if they had successfully nurtured the seedlings, the "gardener" was given a voucher to obtain a stove. The devices used were a somewhat larger version of a charcoal stove in use in Kenya for some years, one in which the fire bed was made of ceramic, then encased in a metal shell. The stoves were manufactured in a workshop run by GTZ, and were considerably more efficient than traditional three-stone fires. Trained "animatrices" were assigned to various parts of the camp, where they did extensive workshops showing people how to use the new equipment.

By the time GTZ heard about the solar program, the Dadaab staff had already provided stoves for over 90% of the camp's residents. Both GTZ and SCI agreed that adding solar cookers to the mix would be one more way to cut down on the use of wood fuel, which by that time had been declared unlawful by the Kenya government, but was still routinely used. The team of GTZ extension workers, already trained in promotion of wood stoves were given additional training in solar technologies, thus adding another tool to their fuel saving repertoire. Eventually, SCI trained additional Dadaab women as trainers, in order to proceed at a faster rate in this huge camp.

Fuelwood wrong turn

An unfortunate event occurred next in Dadaab, one that effectively put an end to the solar cooking project and considerably dampened the improved stove project as well. A delegation of American congresspersons visited the camp. They were told stories of the dangers women were exposed to in the collection of wood (unlike Kakuma, refugees were allowed to collect wood in the area, even though it was unlawful by order of the government). Dadaab is located only about 15 miles from the border with Somalia; the lawlessness of that country spilled over into the nearby camp. Cars were routinely hijacked, necessitating convoy travel to the campsites. Security was certainly a high concern. Some refugees had been robbed, a few killed, and some women raped and murdered while searching for wood. Naturally, this gained the sympathy of the congresspersons. On return to the US, they managed to add a rider to legislation already in process that provided several million dollars for the purchase of fuelwood for Dadaab.

Both GTZ and SCI were horrified at this well-meaning, but ultimately destructive act, which harmed the fuel-efficient stove program and effectively ended the solar cooking project. Obviously, free fuelwood was a far more attractive option. Two years later, the money for fuel was finished, and the programs promoting alternatives to fuelwood were no longer present in the camp. In the US, SCI attempted to protest, but was unsuccessful in obtaining a hearing on this emotional issue, taken up in good faith by ill-informed U.S. representatives. The solar cooking program in Dadaab program of SCI was closed and has not been restarted. {{SubSection}|Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP)}} A Swiss woman named Alison Curtis, working for an NGO called the Solar Health and Education Project(SHEP), provided a number of workshops in the coastal and other coastal regions of Kenya. The initial group of trainers was made up of teachers and public health workers, in order to encourage the introduction of simple solar technologies into school curricula and thus into everyday life. Both cooking and water pasteurization techniques were demonstrated taught to participants. A second group of new solar cooks was simply introduced to the concept and practice of solar cooking in a basic training workshop, while a third group of experienced cooks reviewed progress in their respective villages (based on earlier training and promotion).

A second cluster of workshops was held in an area with a pastoral population that had not been previously exposed to solar cooking. The group made their own CooKits from recycled Tetra pack cartons (small boxes used to hold milk, lined with foil, which became the CooKit's shiny surface). After construction of the CooKits, the smaller groups cooked their meals, with the assistance of the trainers. As is common, amazement was the hallmark of the day! They loved the food and could hardly believe it had been cooked with the sun. In good pastoral style, one of the participants told Ms. Curtis "this initiative is like a cow given to us. We, the Masai, consider the cow the greatest gift one can offer. Let's utilize it". After the praise was given, a promotion committee was appointed to create an action plan to spread the technology in their area.

Solar Household Energy

Working on behalf of the NGO in 2002, Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE, Inc.]] basically a team of graduate students from the University of Michigan, as a part of an assignment for a class in their MBA program, conducted an extensive market survey of solar cookers in Kenya. The students, supported by a generous donor to the school, conducted both phone and in-person interviews with knowledgeable sources in the U.S., Mexico, and within Kenya itself. The result was a comprehensive review of past and present solar cooking projects in Kenya, their market strategies, successful or failing, along with the views of a large number of opinion leaders from the government, the non-governmental community, and pertinent entrepreneurs and manufacturers. The students brought their knowledge from business school courses to bear on the problem, resulting in a useful document for promotion of solar cooking in the country. The document also served as a model for other related market research endeavors. Sponsored by SHE, Inc., this unusual effort turned out to be not only an excellent learning experience for students but also a quite useful document for different disciplines.

Sunny Solutions (SCI)

Perhaps of most interest, was a different program by SCI. The project, called Sunny Solutions, was established in an area near Lake Victoria. The project was located in Upper and Lower Nyakach divisions, not far from Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. Local organizations were recruited as partners and an intense awareness campaign involving a range of stakeholders from government, women's groups, churches, etc., was initiated. Initially, 150 women were invited to try the solar cooking at home; they were provided with CooKits, the cardboard cooker used in areas where families have limited resources, and were given intensive training and an extended follow-up. In early 2003, a team of research consultants conducted an evaluation exercise to serve as a baseline for later program assessment of accomplishments in terms of fuel savings and health benefits.

In May 2003, fifteen women were recruited as trainers from the original pool of 150 solar cooks and sixteen women's groups. The trainers learned to solar cook all types of foods, carry out sales and home visits, keep sales records, and test and pasteurize water.

In July of 2003, the formal kickoff of the program began with a proper Kenya style community celebration, including solar cooked food, singing and dancing, visits from government officials and community leaders. Banners were strung over the site touting the wonders of the sun. The project was well organized with continuous careful monitoring to assure that the project remained on course as it moved towards its goals.

In 2005, hand-assembled CooKits were introduced in the community and given the nickname used to describe people of Nyakach - OYWA. Hand-assembly meant an increase in the profit margin received by the seller and a lower retail price for each cooking kit (a Cookit, plastic bags, WAPI, and instruction booklet). Those involved in the assembly process also received commissions for each well-assembled unit. By the end of 2006, the sales team had grown to 23 expert women, called Solar Cooker Representatives (SCOREPS); 4000 CooKits were sold; over 95% of the people of Nyakach were aware of the benefits of solar cooking; and Sunny Solutions had grown to include two more sites, Kadibo, a flood-prone area just outside Kisumu, and Kajiado, a drought prone area on the main highway from Nairobi to Tanzania.

Reports of other small-scale programs exist in Kenya; the ones desribed above are the longest lasting and largest known currently.

Archived articles


The entities listed below are either based in Kenya, or have established solar cooking projects there:

SCI Associates[]


Manufacturers and vendors[]


Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]

See also[]