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Newsletter, April 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 February 2008 07:01

"Solar Cooking is a salvation for us"

Thanks to a partnership with Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society, CEDESOL has been able to turn around the fortunes of an agricultural community in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In Coachaca Grande, a village of just 120 families, 30 families were chosen through the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society selection interview process to participate in building their own box-type solar cookers and learn how to use them most effectively.

The common fuels for cooking in Coachaca Grande, as in most of Bolivia, have been wood and gas. However burning wood to cook on their traditional ovens causes health problems, most notably relating to lungs and eyes from the resulting smoke, as well as environmental ones, while gas is expensive for people who have few financial resources. At the same time people suffer health problems as a result of drinking water collected from the river that is non-sanitized, a problem easily resolved through the pasteurization of water in a solar cooker. It is also becoming harder to rely on wood as a resource. Eucalyptus trees stand alone where fruit trees had once densely populated the area. The lack of firewood has caused conflicts in the community as people have felt resigned to stealing wood from their neighbors.

Incorporating solar cookers into this community received the full backing of the mayor of the village who saw its potential for restoring peace there and went about promoting the idea to his neighbors. With the support of Kyoto Twist, in July of 2007 CEDESOL and the micro enterprise Sobre La Roca carried out the project of disseminating the solar cookers and training the selected 30 families in their use. Kyoto Twist donated carbon credit funds to help reduce the cost of the solar cookers, water pasteurization indicators, stainless steel glass lid pots and provided funds for the training and follow-up surveys over a 3-month period.

What the follow-up surveys reveal is highly encouraging and proves the project a great success. Blanca Foronda with her solar cooker After only 3 months of their use, the long-standing cooking habits of the people are changing significantly. The surveys show a 30% and 46% reduction in the use of firewood and gas respectively with a reduction in some cases of up to 50% in their monthly expenditure on fuel for cooking. There is a 100% satisfaction rate with the cookers and it is clear that this project has positively impacted and transformed the entire community. One of the participants, Blanca Foronda (pictured here) describes her solar cooker as ´a salvation for us´. The cookers used in this project have a life-expectancy of 17 years which translates as each cooker saving between 510 and 1200 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions entering the atmosphere. It is not overstating the case to say that solar cookers can be part of the salvation of our planet as well as of the people of the little agricultural community of Coachaca Grande, Cochabamba.

Kyoto Twist is now interested in doing a project with us in an urban setting where gas is predominantly used. We are excited about this project and will gain greater knowledge about fuel savings in this situation as well as improving our follow-up surveying.

If you would like to support Kyoto Twist or have a project that you would like supported by Kyoto Twist, please visit their web page

If you would like to see more testimonies from participants in this project, please visit our what the people say page

The adventure of delivering ecological cookers

Ruth on back of truckThe work of incorporating ecological cookers is not for the faint-hearted. Just ask Ruth Saavedra. Ruth, owner of micro-enterprise Sobre La Roca, bears witness to the white-knuckle-ride adventure that delivering solar cookers and improved wood cookers can be. Working in 5 of the 9 departments of Bolivia, Ruth will go to almost any lengths to make sure that the people who want her cookers get them.

On a recent trip to San Pedro de Buenavista in North Potosí, Ruth traveled with one of her staff a return journey of over 20 hours along zigzag, one-track mountain roads, clinging to a truck in the back of an open-back truck for the length of the return leg of the journey. The recent rains that have devastated many parts of Bolivia had eaten up some parts of the road so much so that the bus stopped several times to waitthe journey back for the road to be filled in.

Rotary International first invited Ruth to run a small project in San Pedro de Buenavista back in 2002 and she immediately established a connection with the people who responded very favorably to the cookers she had to offer them. The mayor´s office there saw the potential of these cookers to have a positive impact on the lives of her people and invited Ruth back, and was even prepared to pay for her transport.

unloading cookers in San PedroA coordinator Ruth has there arranges the papers that CEDESOL prepares for her to handle the subsidy that it is able to offer the people through partnerships with GTZ and the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S.A. Ruth will demonstrate the use of the cookers and disseminate them. On her latest trip she delivered 83 cookers, more solar than wood, and already has a demand for up to 70 more. At the moment the roads are too dangerous to travel but as soon as it is possible, you can be sure that Ruth will be ready for her next adventure.

A new agreement with GTZ for 1,000 stoves

David demonstrating rocket stoveCEDESOL's initial contract for 1,000 stoves with GTZ, the international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development, recently came to an end. It proved a hugely encouraging success with 58% of people choosing a solar cooker over an improved wood cooker, demonstrating that people will make a choice that is best for the environment as well as for them when the facts are presented to them. The good news is that CEDESOL has a new agreement with GTZ for 1,000 stoves. The subsidy has been significantly reduced however so we are looking for ways to cover this deficit. If you would like to support us in this endeavor, please visit our GiveMeaning page where you can invest just $12 for a Bolivian with few resources to be able to acquire an ecological stove that will improve their life significantly. There is a deadline to invest in this project- now would be a great time to give!