Solar Cooking
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Last edited: 1 March 2018      
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Faustine Odaba leads a solar cooking demonstration for NAREWAMA.

Heat-retention cookers of many different designs - Photo: Bernie Mueller

The NAREWAMA (Natural Resources and Waste Management Alliance) is a non-governmental organization working primarily in Kenya to raise solar cooking awareness, and generally teaching local community members how everyday discarded items can be recycled into useful, colorful products. The founder and director of the organization is Faustine Odaba.

Faustine began in the early 1990s as an active member and a leader of the Amagoro Housewives Group in the Busia District of western Kenya. The group obtained a solar box cooker from US Peace Corps volunteer Barbara Ross, and soon learned to be expert solar cooks. Soon they made contact with Solar Cookers International and learned to make simple solar panel cookers from cardboard and tinfoil.

In 1994, Faustine and other members of the Amagoro Housewives attended the first Kenya-wide solar cooking conference. As the only seasoned Kenyan solar cooks in attendance, they were stars of the show, overwhelming the doubts of skeptics with their first-hand experience of solar cooking success.

The group evolved into NAREWAMA, and they continue to provide solar cooking training to communities throughout Kenya. In 2013, Ms. Odaba  and traveled to Liberia at the request of Marylanders for Progress (Liberia) to introduce solar cooking to communities eager to learn about this technology.


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


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 a “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.

Photo Bernie Müller

Faustine Odaba (Mama Solar) explains the use of a CooKit solar cooker.

  • February 2015: Mama Solar continues her work - Faustine Odaba, founder of NAREWAMA, gives a presentation on cooking with the CooKit in Kyamulibwa, Uganda on February 11, 2015.
  • October 4, 2014: Natural Resource and Waste management Alliance was invited to the launch of Kenya Interfaith Network on Environmental Action (KINEA); a network of faith groups that are propelled by their faith values to care for environment. The event was held at Tangaza college in Nairobi and was attended by various universities, colleges, NGOs, and religion groups. The guest of honour was Rt. Rev.Bishop Alfred Kipkoech Arap Rotich, the military ordinariate of the Catholic church in Kenya. The event was attended by over a hundred participants. KINEA engages in programs related to climate change and livelihood enhancement which include: ,promotion of tree growing faith owned/ managed institutions and land, faith based education for sustainable development(ESD), and faith based sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation programs.
  • September 25, 2014: A training of 30 Alliance women was held at coffee plaza office in Nairobi. The women were trained on solar cooking, plastic wastes recycling, and water testing. They learned about the need to be self reliant and environment conservation.

Audio and video[]

  • May 2017:

Kakuma refugee camp setting the pace in use of renewable energy-0

  • December 2014:

Fireless Cookers complement Solar Cookers

  • September 2012:


Faustine Odaba an environmentalist popularly known as mama solar, uses solar energy she taps from the sun to make most of her meals.

External links[]

See also[]


Faustine Odaba, Director
P. O. Box 60358-00200
Uhuru Phase IV (Jerusalem Shopping Centre)