Solar Cooking
Last edited: 29 September 2020      

Adelante Con El Sol The Solar Women Of Totogalpa

This is a short documentary set in rural Nicaragua that follows Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa through their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle.


  • 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 Nicaragua


  • July 2016: The S.T.E.V.E.N. Foundation has decided to take a hiatus, and step back from undertaking new projects. They will remain available to share their expertise. Due to the success of the foundation's free distribution of small quantities Mylar reflective material, their supplies have all but been exhausted. They will continue their support of Cornell University students who partner with the women of Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa in Nicaragua, as they promote solar cooking with cooker building workshops and operate a solar restaurant. Read more in the S.T.E.V.E.N Foundation Annual Report 2015

Nicaraguan group Solar Women of Totogalpa prepares baked goods for sale.

  • March 2014: How solar energy empowers women, youth in rural Nicaragua - Forty years ago Sabana Grande, a small community in northern Nicaragua, was ravaged by war. Now you will find people sitting under solar-powered lights, eating solar-cooked chicken, and drinking smoothies made by a bicycle-powered blender. Sabana Grande (pop. 2,000), in the mountains of Totogalpa, about 20 miles from the Honduran border, has embraced a solar culture that has transformed the community. Read more...

Adelante Con El Sol The Solar Women Of Totogalpa

  • December 2013: Adelante Con El Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa is a short documentary set in rural Nicaragua that follows a group of women through their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle. The film was created by CalmDog Productions. Watch this excellent twenty-two minute film, and help the producers receive the Audience Choice Award.

Energy Globe World Award 2013 - Winner - Category Air

Solar Projects Foundation for Nicaraguan Women (FUPROSOMUNIC)

  • October 2014 Solar Projects Foundation for Nicaraguan Women is awarded the Energy Globe World Award for 2013.
  • May 2013: The small Nicaraguan Women’s Solar Project Foundation FUPROSOMUNIC has, since 2006, installed 664 solar cookers in nine municipalities. Solar cooking saves money, reduces deforestation, and is healthier for women than breathing wood smoke. The group focuses on providing the poorest of the poor with stoves discounted as much as 90%, thus requiring an investment on the part of the women of as low as US$20 paid over eight months. The stoves can save about $13USD in wood purchases monthly. The program has already received two awards and has been nominated for the prestigious Global Energy Award. Like other solar cooking programs such as Solar Cookers International, the women construct their own cookers and learn how to use and maintain them under the direction of FUPROSOMUNIC. Solar cookers are useful for other things besides cooking food such as drying fruit and medicinal plants, disinfecting clothing, and purifying water. Some of the women are using the stoves to dry nuts and other products to sell. The foundation was formed through Swiss aid in partnership with a Nicaraguan sociologist. The biggest obstacle for the program is to overcome the initial skepticism of the women. But some are won over by their ability to easily and cheaply prepare traditional dishes, such as came en bajo [a traditional dish based on cooked beef and vegetables], that normally require a great deal of firewood to cook properly. Cooking on cloudy days or after sunset can be done on improved charcoal cookers also promoted by the Foundation. These cookers are efficient and allow for frying, which the solar cooker does not. - The Nicaragua Newsletter

Cornell University students work with the Solar Women of Totogalpa to refine their solar cooker design.

  • February 2013: Cornell University students working as the Solar Cooking Team, visited the Solar Women of Totogalpa and Grupo Fenix in March 2012. The project for this year was to design and build versions of cookers intended for easy prefabrication and shipment. The standard cooker design is 30 inches square (exterior), 12 inches high and weighs roughly 60 pounds. It is an effective cooker, but is not easy to ship, especially with its heavy and brittle double glazed top. The team brought two new designs. A main design parameter of the cookers was to be able to use materials readily available in Nicaragua and with methods already understood. The first cooker used wooden framing, fiberglass insulation and sheet metal typical of the cookers produced at the Centro Solar. This cooker weighed about 50 pounds and used Reynolds cooking bags stretched on thin metal frames instead of glass for the top glazing. Both metal cases were hinged to allow easy folding. The cooker was partially disassembled and packed in a cardboard box which was checked onto the airplane for the trip, to prove its transportability. It was reassembled after arrival in Sabana Grande. The second cooker used interior and exterior sheet metal boxes framed with light aluminum angle stock. The boxes were separated by a layer of fiberglass board insulation. The tops of the two metal cases are secured by screws to a rectangular wooden frame, which supported the door/top. The door/top also used cooking bags stretched on thin metal frames as glazing. This cooker weighed approximately 30 pounds and was brought inside a suitcase. Read more at Cornell University Solar Cooker Team visits Nicaragua Spring 2012
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Centro Girasoles Proceso

Centro Girasoles Proceso, an organization associated with Bill Lankford's long standing work in Central America, is located in Nicaragua and was active in training women in the construction and use of solar cookers for several years. Ongoing training and follow-up was also provided. In the view of the Proceso groups in the Central American countries, solar cooking is a critical element in the overall process of improvement of life for Central Americans. Centro Girasoles Proceso reported that the cookers were used over 80% of the time once the training and follow-up were completed.

Grupo Fenix

Centro Girasoles Proceso has also worked to educate other groups working in Nicaragua about solar cooking. One of these groups was Grupo Fenix, an organization with the goal to provide a range of renewable energy resources in the country. Through the knowledge shared by Centro Girasoles Proceso, Grupo Fenix developed skills in teaching low-income people how to build simple, effective, and low-cost box cookers. Some ovens built were built in a day and were small and made of scrap cardboard, newspaper, aluminum foil, and plastic. Others took up to a week to construct and were larger and built using wood along with other durable materials. They learned, as many solar promoters do, that follow-up with new trainees is an essential element to ensure longevity of a solar cooking program. Grupo Fenix were also trained in pasteurizing milk and water, sterilization techniques, and how to identity the most efficient solar cookers for particular needs.

Working with Terrasol, a US/Nicaraguan volunteer project, Grupo Fenix also promoted photovoltaic lighting. In addition, they used the abundant rainfall, which feeds streams and rivers, for small-scale generation of electricity to supplement that which comes from the national system, as this often fails before reaching remote rural areas.

Grupo Fenix established a "nano-loan" program in order to assist local people with acquisition of the range of renewable technologies that they provided.

Archived articles

Climate and culture[]

We came across this paragraph, from a student service learning project, while researching an article for the Solar Cooker Review. The student was working with a solar photo-voltaic company in Nicaragua, where some solar cookers have been introduced. Judging from the description we assume the cookers are large parabolic or box cookers. In any case, this is a good reminder of one reason why solar cookers (especially if they are not the appropriate type for a given population) are not always as readily accepted and used as we promoters would like.

"A strong example of a renewable energy not working as it was intended was apparent in Nicaragua. Solar ovens were viewed as an answer to women cooking all day in the poorly ventilated and smoke filled kitchens. It was believed that solar cookers would allow the women to not spend as much time in the kitchen as well as eliminate the need to collect wood for the current stoves. The problem lay in the fact that the solar cookers did not fit into the culture appropriately for them to be utilized effectively. The culture of Nicaragua had always dictated that the social center for a woman to meet and talk with friends would always be the kitchen so that they could talk as they worked. Wood burning stoves gave this ability as they required a person to always be around cooking or tending to the fire. With solar cookers, the oven was outside and because food took longer to cook, there was more downtime where the women would end up sitting around in the kitchen anyways. The time to cook a meal with direct sunlight in a solar cooker was usually 50% to 100% longer and a much longer preparation time was necessary, because of this, the solar cookers had to be repositioned so that they were getting the most sun possible. This task was difficult for women who could not move the solar cookers on their own because they were too large, and the number of women, were few who knew how to move them so they would get direct sun. Dinner was served usually when it was dark out, as it is in most cultures, so the food would have to be prepared beforehand and somehow reheated for dinner. Because of these problems, it became apparent solar cookers would not become a technology that would fit well into the culture of rural Nicaragua."

See also


Possible funders[]

Project evaluations[]

Main article: Project evaluations


Articles in the media[]

Audio and video[]

  • July 2017:

REDMEREE Webinar “Grupo Fénix y las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa”

  • January 2017:

Susan Kinne - Low Budget High Returns Dignity and Knowledge Driven Development


  • October 2014

Energy Globe World Award 2013 - Winner - Category Air

Solar Projects Foundation for Nicaraguan Women (FUPROSOMUNIC)

  • July 2014

Bauer- Evaluation of usage and fuel savings of solar ovens in Nicaragua


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

SCI Associates[]


Manufacturers and vendors[]


Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]

See also[]