SHE's successes in Mexico, Sahel refugee camps and Nairobi poor communities

Solar cooker vs rudimentary smoky cookstove

Solar cookers for poor rural remote communities in Oaxaca, Mexico

Since 2017, SHE has supported Mexican solar cooking expert Lorena Harp in her goal to bring solar cooking to poor rural families in Oaxaca through a self-funding “solar cooker ambassador” program. Ambassadors are rural women who promote and sell on commission in their communities an affordable and durable panel-style solar cooker, the Haines Solar Cooker (HSC), then provide training and regular support to maximize long-term adoption and impact.

Here are some users’ testimonials:
““It comes out delicious! The Haines Solar Cooker preserves the flavor, just as if you were cooking it in a clay pot in a firewood kitchen. I would like at least 4!” - Esther Patricio, customer & ambassador

“As I am an artisan, I prepare my food and then I go out to sell my work. And, when I come back, the food is cooked and ready! I have cooked…everything! Since I do not have a stove with an oven, this is my oven. My daughter says she’s going to buy one.” - Macedonia Martinez, customer”

Oaxaca Ambassador Program Highlights:
- Over 250 solar cookers sold to low-income customers in remote, rural communities
- Ten ambassadors earning $15 commission per sale
- 50% savings in fuel usage, as reported by customers
- Over 200 solar cookers donated or sold to local organizations for emergency relief
- Donation and delivery of groceries to over 40 families in need

The “100 Families” project in Nairobi, Kenya – direct donations to lift the poorest out of poverty
In 2021, SHE continued joint efforts with solar cooking expert Tom Sponheim, embracing his 100 Families Project in Nairobi to lift 100 families that were locked down and unable to work due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Using a new, “radically transparent” model, donors’ funds are transferred directly to each family, who send back photos to show how the funds were used. Basic needs such as groceries are met first, then families work with Nairobi-based colleague Samuel Odhiambo to start businesses, aiming for self-sufficiency. To date, approximately half of the families have become self-sufficient. Some have also added solar cooking to their lives for increased savings. Other cooking aids have been introduced: heat-retention basket cookers, ethanol Koko stoves, thermoses, sprouting beans and fermenting foods for affordable, vitamin-rich foods. Community centers and groups have been established: a borrowing fund, a sewing center, a computer lab, a chess club, community area clean-ups. Finally, medical expenses for critical cases were covered.

Nairobi-based manager Samuel Odhiambo describes one family selected to receive funds for groceries:
“A widowed mother with four girls. When she heard that I was reaching out to the needy, she called me after getting my number, and I had to pay her a courtesy call on Sunday, by seven. I have been in such a situation and I could feel what she meant that they were hungry. In a dark room, no light at all though her children are school going told it all. The youngest looked frail and as soon as I directed the money to her M-Pesa account, she with her daughter were out to go and do the shopping.”

East Africa: Solar Cooking for Refugees

Since 2012, Over 800 solar cookers have been distributed to refugees in East Africa. Refugee camps in the arid Sahel region have exerted tremendous unsustainable pressure on the land and forests of the region since 2003, mostly due to firewood collection needed for cooking. Sexual and gender-based violence is high among women, who must venture outside the refugee camps to collect wood.

In 2011, SHE, in partnership with UNHCR and local implementing partners distributed 250 HotPots in Gaga refugee camp in Chad. Evaluations after three and five years showed that all HotPots were still in good or excellent condition, an 87% satisfaction rate, high usage (67% using HotPot more than other cookstoves, 40% no longer using the three-stone fire), and 76% desiring additional HotPots.

In 2017, 500 Haines-CopenHaguen solar cookers were donated with training to schoolchildren during a festival in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Since 2019, various SHE-supported social enterprises and focus groups have distributed or sold over 100 HotPots around refugee camp areas.

One user from Gaga refugee camp gave this feedback: “I learned that with the sun I can cook all my dishes, without having to exit the camp. All women should have a solar cooker. – SALWA MAHAMAT SOULEYMAN”

SHE volunteers also carry out solar cooking educatoin, contribute to R&D and setting international standards.

Charity Name
Solar Household Energy, Inc.
Photo Caption
Solar cookers free women from the labor and negative health and economical of impacts of dirty biomass cookstoves, while protecting the planet.
Photo Credit
Lorena Harp