Solar Cooking
Last edited: 15 November 2019      
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In 1994 Wilfred Pimentel of the Rotary Club of Fresno started a solar cooker project with the Nairobi Rotary Club East in Kenya. Fuelwood shortages in areas heavily populated by rural, disadvantaged poor are a growing and major problem in Africa. Use of the sun's energy to cook food was a natural for Africa where sunshine is prevalent.

The Rotary Club of Fresno Solarcook Project teaches and trains women from families who previously had prepared their meals over a fire to use the simple technology solar cooker. The solar cookers come in many different varieties; sizes and shapes are to be manufactured in Africa. The cooker is a basic, portable affordable way to prepare meals. Interested women are given a workshop by local trainers that include food preparation, cooking, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. For a small fee, the women are given a solar cooker. Since searching for fuelwood, which is a declining resource, consumes enormous amounts of time, the introduction of solar cookers has been seen as a major change in lifestyle.

Since that time, the Rotary Club of Fresno Solarcook project has spread throughout Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and Tanzania are still to be addressed. Matching grants from Solar Cooking International and other Rotary clubs in District 5230 have made this project possible. Girl Guides from the countries involved in the project are now helping with the teaching and training. Ghana, Turkey and Mexico will be added to the project. Ghana is especially concerned about Guiena worm infestations in unclean drinking water. Solar cookers can pasteurize unclean water. To date we have completed $260,000 in matching grants for Solar Cooker projects. This money comes from Rotarians from all over the world in addition to our District and Club.

[Text for this page was taken from on July 24, 2007.]


  • July 2019: 

Students at Westside Elementary School in Five Points, California, USA cook with their pizza box solar cookers in a Rotary Club of Fresno project.

Sixteen-brick Rocket Stove

  • May 2012: Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Fresno, California, led by Wilfred and Marie Pimentel, teamed up with the Rotary Club of Tapachula Centenario, Mexico, to host a five-day integrated cooking workshop in Tapachula. This is the tenth grant project completed in Mexico by the Rotary Club of Fresno. Although only twenty students were expected to attend, ninety-one arrived on opening day to participate—a clear indication of the desperate need for affordable fuel-saving cooking devices in this region. Local instructors and expert solar cooks from Torreon and Oaxaca led the workshop. Participants learned to build three types of rocket stoves: mud and chopped grass, five gallon tin can, and sixteen brick, which were used to make tortillas. Students cut out cardboard sheets and glued them to pieces of aluminum foil to make solar panel CooKits. A variety of meat, vegetable and egg dishes were prepared with the CooKits along with desserts like pineapple upside down cake. Students also learned how to use WAPI’s to pasteurize water with a CooKit. Finally, the instructors showed their ninety-one students how easy it is to make a retained heat cooker with a pillowcases and crumpled newspaper stuffed into a woven basket. Read more...
  • August 2011: the Rotary Club of Fresno has announced continued growth of their partnership program, creating alliances with overseas Rotary groups in promoting the Integrated Cooking Method. The four main ideas are to use solar cookers when appropriate, use fuel efficent stoves other times, in combination with hay baskets and WAPI water pasteurization temperature indicators.
  • July 2010: Five Rotary-based organizations have joined forces to introduce solar cooking principles in South African townships, helping to alleviate poverty and improve health. The project will bring solar cooking to townships in Cape Town, and five hundred miles to the east, in Grahamstown. The Rotary Club of Fresno, in California, has been promoting solar cooker technology, using designs that are easy and cheap to make, produce no carbon emissions, avoid firewood collection and burning, and are healthier to use than conventional cooking and water-sanitizing methods. Wendi Hammond and Patti Thornton from the Rotary Club of Fresno, California, both expert trainers in solar cooking, have travelled to South Africa this past spring as volunteer trainers for the Sustainability Trust sponsored solar cooking project. More Information...
  • April 2008: The Rotary Club of Fresno has a Rotary Matching Grant project near Lira, Uganda with the Rotary Club of Kampala South and an NGO called Aid Africa directed by Rotarian Ken Goyer living in Eugene, Oregon. The teaching of Integrated Cooking is in Abako near Lira and the local Director is Rosette.

Audio and video[]

  • March 2007:

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