Special Report: Communities happy as Solar Cooker lessens their burden

Solar cooking is getting dominance in homes across communities in Ghana, and, this was been boosted by Frank Otchere’s efforts, who has successfully built and used a solar CooKit in Ghana.

Gaining knowledge of the usefulness of solar cookers, over 60 solar cookers have been constructed by villagers, and are being marketed for about $5 for one. Otchere and Bannerman had arranged to assist in support of solar cooking in Ghana, Bannerman to focus in the Upper East, Upper West, and Northern regions; whereas Otchere in the Eastern, Ashanti, and Brong-Ahafo regions.

Efforts to improve this invention by governments, individuals, and non-governmental organizations have been recorded enormously, eleven women from the West Africa Network for Peace Building and the Women in Peace Building Network had a one-month training workshop in Ghana on making the solar stoves. The women were selected from Margibi, Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Lofa.

In a similar development, many participants from several parts of Togo and Ghana were present at the conference which was organized by Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) and displayed solar cooking and solar water pasteurization.

Benefactors of a JVE solar project gave evidence of how solar cooking has touched lives in the Vo region. Present at the conference were Togo’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment, the Chief Cabinet to the Minister of Youth, and representatives of the media.

In the northern region of Ghana, Grace Akawe is in charge of supervising 90 solar cookers inside Tamale and the immediate societies; she goes there twice every week.

Whereas in the upper west region, Jacinta Ziem supervises the entirety of 25 solar cookers in the municipality of Wa and the surrounding areas, where she visits two Saturdays a month. Both of them are famous in their vicinity and have grown a strong relationship among the users.

In Liberia for instance, NGO Sustainability’s project is introducing Small Scale Solar and this move intends to sustain community participation in the training of the use and making of solar cookers, enhanced cookstoves, solar pumps, WAPIs, and solar lanterns.

It is expected that upon triumphant achievement of this, the project would be initiated in other areas of Liberia as a scheme that assists in the alleviation of an adjustment to climate change.

True Faith Missions (Pastor Hal Nichols) has introduced solar ovens to communities in Liberia and it is making a mammoth accomplishment and so far at the moment nine families have built them and are using them and the people were very glad to learn that they can cook rice in their solar cookers.

Gambia is not left out of the solar cooker initiative, as an interview with Lamin Sawo where he discussed exploits in Health Education and Agricultural Development AHEAD’s large-scale solar cooking scheme in the Gambia proves 900 households now use solar cookers often in their respective homes. AHEAD had carried out solar cooking training in five villages in the Gambia and had workshops where it trained 12-15 women per village in the act of making and the use of solar cookers. The women that were trained will in turn train others. They have put up a trainers’ cooperative called Tilo Tabiro.

Boka Loho Organization has built and demonstrated solar cookers at agricultural shows and other events. They manufacture cookers, tutor users, and also work with schools in the encouragement and support of solar energy usage. In supporting this move, the Gambia Ministry of Trade and Industry has trained women’s groups as users and carpenters in the making of box cookers for solar cooker making.

Mali has also bought into the initiative of solar cooker, as The Association of Handicapped Women of Mali (AMAFH) continues to put together solar cooker training for its members in Bamako, with assistance from the Association of Women Engineers (AFIMA) and monetary assistance from Dutch KoZon Foundation. At the moment AMAFH has taught over 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing women, fifty women with leprosy, and 20 mentally disabled women on means of utilizing the CooKit solar cooker at two-day training it organized for them.

Togolese is also in the race to catch up with Solar Cooker invention, Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) has taught over 150 persons how to make and use solar cookers. Over 100 participants from several cities in Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin assembled for a workshop in Notse. In the three days workshop, participants were taught fundamental solar cooking concepts and skills; they took part in the making of their own solar CooKits. JVE had organized Operation Amis du Soleil, a five-day gathering in the Casablanca quarter of Lome and this brought jointly numerous numbers of persons which majority of them are youth, to be trained on solar cooker use and to make solar cookers for JVE’s solar water pasteurization project in Vo prefecture.

The prospects of the solar cookers in West African urban poor communities are enormous; about 87% of households use either kerosene or firewood in making their food in the region. However in Nigeria for instance, kerosene is no longer affordable by the urban poor as the price has skyrocketed therefore making it impossible for many slum dwellers to cook their meals.

And those who use electric stoves may opt for this solar cooker option too as there is no constant power supply and if there is the cost of the bill cannot be affordable by most urban poor communities. And for those that live in the villages, there has been serious forest deforestation as people are desperate in search of firewood thereby exposing the communities to victims of climate change.  With the hardship people face to get kerosene and firewood to use in cooking their food in various West African urban poor communities, the solar cooker is likely to be the best option for mothers in West Africa urban poor communities in the shortest possible time.

Those who are likely to go into the business of making solar cookers are likely to be in business as over 87% of households in the region are likely to patronize the venture as the best alternative to kerosene stoves, electric stoves, and firewood.

ECOWAS in its discussion on sustainable energy for all as we have seen it done over time must take local technological inventions in the region seriously and must commit more money for research and development where initiatives like this (solar cooker) must be improved upon and standardized. ECOWAS must take similar local technology initiatives seriously as it pushes for West African regional integration if it must encourage technology growth and development in the region which is a driving force for development at the moment.

Please note: Picture not taken by MAWA Foundation, used for illustration

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