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In general

The habit of using wood and/or charcoal for cooking is a threat to the people and nature of most African countries. However in many places there is no alternative. NGO Sol Suffit is now trying to introduce the concept of integrated cooking in order to reduce the wood consumption, this being to the benefit of the people and nature in general. Integrated cooking means a wood-saving cooking method (= cooking with solar energy or energy saving woodstoves) combined with the use of insulation baskets.
With the introduction of the Sunicook we hope to make a big step forward in many countries.

Senegal: subproject in the Langue de Barbarie

As from 2011 we started cooperating with the local NGO (de GIE Taku Ligey). They form groups of women (ecogardes) who voluntarily work for the villages surrounding the nature area of Langue de Barbarie (near St. Louis). These groups have already worked together with the local authorities for many years and have meanwhile gathered a lot of experience with social and environmental projects. Upon their own request, communicated through Fatou Khol, we started a solar cooking project. This project was ended in 2014.
Solar cooking aan de Langue de Barbarie


Video testimony by Fatou from Langue de Barbarie

Senegal: subproject Thiés/Tostan

In 2012 contacts were established with the American/Senagalese NGO Tostan to cooperate on the new project. For several decades Tostan has had a tradition in stabilisation projects concerning various socials topics (like the struggle against female circumcision). This organisation has some experience in solar cooking so could be a suitable partner in business. In two villages near Thiés several cooking demonstrations were held. Consequently some 100 solarcookers were introduced in 2013. Both the introduction and the support were executed by a local employee. This project was ended in 2014.


In May 2012 we were requested by a local organisation (ASSPCI) to visit Mauritania. During this visit we concluded to start a pilot project in the village called Maouidina, situated in Diawling national park (just across the Senegal border). Just like in the Djoudj in Senegal the deforestation problem here is equally serious, threatening the biodiversity of nature. In cooperation with PNUD (UN organisation) being responsible for the financing, a demo on solarcooking was organized in Mouidina by the end of 2012. In February 2013 104 solarcookers were shipped. A second shipment of 50 solarcookers arrived in March 2014 together with medical gear for the local medical aid centre (such as sterilization and surgical equipment, childbirth table, examination table). These medical materials were facilitated by gifts.. This project was also closed in 2014.
Solarcooker in Mauritania

Solarcooking brings the sun into Umoja-project

The Umoja project (Moja means ‘oneness’)
The Umoja project in Moshi Tanzania was initiated by Henny Schuurmans in 2007. Right from the start it was and still is her intention to improve the standard of life of ‘her’ 22 disabled children and invest in their future by offering them educational day- care: from vulnerable and underprivileged to empowerment! That’s her goal……….. Her philosophy: love their true self, learn while playing, and a disability does not mean a handicap! (For further reference and information please see the Umoja website).

Situation and climate
Moshi is a comunity of approximately 185.000 inhabitants in the Kilimanjaro valley. The Umoja day-care centre operates in close cooperation with TAWREF and Mawenzi Hospital. In the day-care centre the children are provided with two meals a day, watersupplies have been established as well as a maternity hospital. Meanwhile various renovations have taken place such as the Umoja house, the kitchen and the classrooms. Most of the activities are executed by local people.

Moshi has a tropical wet and dry climate. The weather is strongly influenced by the monsoons: the northeast monsoon from December to March with the highest temperatures (approx. 30 °C) of the year; the southeast monsoon from June to September (approx. 25 °C). Nighttime temperatures are approx. 15 – 17 °C. Insignificant rainfall throughout the year except between monsoons. Moshi's wettest months are March through May, when around 71 percent of its annual precipitation falls. The outskirts of Moshi are known for extensive farms of maize and beans, grown once per year during the long rainy season.

Introduction of the Sunicook
The first contact between Solarcooking and the Umoja project dates from the beginning of August 2015. After a relatively brief cooking-demonstration for the Belgian project staff, the Sunicook was considered to be a valuable addition to the existing cooking facility in Tanzania. As the cooker is a human friendly device with no open fire, it is assumed to be of educational value to probably some or perhaps most of the 22 children in the day- care centre. On the Sunicook only one dish at the time can be prepared for a maximum of 8 – 10 people. For further details please see the website, and As one of the solarcookers sponsored by Solsuffit will be going to Tanzania beginning of December 2015 (the second in February next year), the project staff will be requested to record the preparing of regular local meals, so to learn and improve the usage and implementation of solarcooking. Dishes like stews, soups, porridge, rice, maize and tajines are easy to prepare. Boiling water for tea or for (dish)washing activities can take place all day long. With a continuous temperature of 250 °C (max.) lasting for 45 minutes, breadbaking should be possible in for instance a clay breadpot. This will be tested soonest.
From previous experience solarcooking also contributes to their general health because without the need of a open woodfire, no smoke is enhaled during the cooking process. For economic reasons: the solarcooker functions only on solar radiance (using black cooking pans or clay pots) so no more wood is needed on sunny days. On cloudy or rainy days however it will be necessary to use the existing traditional cooking stove. It might be considered to introduce a woodsaving stove in addition to the solarcooker; this option should be investigated and experienced in pratice lateron. When preparing food on the solarcooker which has to be consumed later that same day, hay baskets can be used to keep the food warm or even have it cooked slowly until consuming time. These hay baskets could easily and most probably be manufactured locally. This could mean an additional handicraft activity for the children of the day-care centre for their own use or for selling purposes in the local market. The Sunicook can easily be stalled in a vertical position against a wall. The idea of implementing cooking with solar energy was discussed during the most recent September 2015-visit to Tanzania. The positive reaction of the local staff resulted in a serious negotiation contact with the owners of the vzw Solsuffit organisation. With their expertise and general knowledge of the African market, it was soon decided that they wanted to sponsor two solarcookers in order to start the introduction of the Sunicook in Moshi.

Our aim would be to first train the Umoja personnel on how to prepare for instance the daily tea and a simple meal on the Sunicook. In order to make it successful it would be advisable to appoint one or two ‘supervisors’ to work with the cooker. After we have experienced the possibilities preparing the local food, the children of the day-care centre could gradually be trained as well. Once the solarcooking initiative proves to be a success, the neighbouring Moshi people could be invited to experience a life demonstration on two (or finally may be more) solarcookers.

Supplementary activities
In addition to the cooking activities, the growing methods of vegetables and herbs on the day-care centre’s compound can be improved. It could be suggested to encourage the children of the day-care centre to participate by having them take care of their own little piece of land, with their own chosen crop. They will practically learn to count, to care, to water, to maintain and not in the least to become proud of their own output. Finally it will teach them dignity and self-respect. Going back to their private home at the end of the day, the knowledge and experience gained at the day-care centre will result in empowerment and may offer them new perspectives within their family. With sufficient revenues from the vegetable garden, products can be sold at the local market for extra income. As a necessary element the newly built watersupply nearby could well be used for irrigation purposes. To improve the soil, compost consisting of greens remainings of any kind, should be gathered on the compound, in order to be re-used in the vegetable garden. The same goes for animal menure (‘cycle’ principle). May be later a compost-toilet can be considered. The Permaculture organisation in Belgium will be contacted for more relevant information.

Field work, internships/traineeships
The introduction of solarcooking as well as setting up the vegetable garden will certainly need more structural guidance and assistance in order to guarantee continuity. It might be a suggestion to contact the University of Wageningen, Tropical Agriculture Department in the Netherlands. Students could be invited to spend their traineeship in Moshi by coaching the project and exchanging experiences. Besides Solsuffit has declared to be willing to participate with their knowledge and experience from projects in western Africa. Existing solarcooking projects elsewhere in the world could be contacted during the coming months in order to learn from their experience and to finally extend the cookingproject to a larger scale.

The day-care centre is mainly financed on basis of sponsoring and voluntary input. Some 12 organisations and companies are supporting the maintenance and day to day cost of the project. Vzw Solsuffit sponsored the first two Sunicook solarcookers for start-up reasons. In Belgium the local Rotary organisation will be contacted to prepare a presentation on solarcooking. Besides a promotional Africa-day will be organised in 2016. More initiatives will be investigated such as crowd-funding and private initiatives etc...
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