Solar Cookers International
Solar Cookers International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Sacramento, CA, United States. SCI’s goal is to normalize the usage of solar cookers in underdeveloped countries as a way to cook food cheaply and without burning fuel. SCI does this by educating people on solar cooking methods, and with “boots on the ground” missions in developing countries, the group has managed to help 30,000 African families get access to a cooking method.
The group has also made their own solar cooker product, the CooKit, which is a foldable solar cooker.
Solar Cookers International (SCI) was founded in 1987 by Barbara Kerr, Sherry Cole, and some others as an attempt to promote solar cooking as a serious method of cooking food.
SCI began their operations by distributing guides on how to make and use solar cookers. They also began pushing solar cooking as a way to cook cheaply in relief programs.
In 1992, SCI began hosting solar cooking conferences.
Beginning in 1995, SCI began administering and managing solar cooking projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, Chad, and Zimbabwe.
Recently, SCI began hosting a wiki available on the internet, containing resources on solar cooking methods among other things. Visit the wiki here.
Areas of Focus
SCI is a worldwide organization that educates people across the globe, by their solar cooking projects mainly focus on developing countries in Africa.
Kenya, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe
SCI managed a solar cooking project in Nyakach, Kenya, the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, and in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. SCI has also conducted missions in the Aisha refugee camp in Ethiopia, and in many communities in Zimbabwe.
SCI’s CooKit solar cooker has been mass produced, and about 10,000 units have been sent to the Iridimi Refugee Camp and Touloum Refugee Camps in Chad in order to ease the stress of the Darfur Conflict refugee crisis. This donation was especially helpful as refugees would be attacked and mutilated by the Janjaweed if they left their camps to search for firewood. Another end result of the donation is the refugees had more time to attempt to farm as they did not have to spend a lot of time tending to fires, as the search for firewood could sometimes be an entire day.
SCI makes a majority of their money from contributions. In 2018, SCI made $627,388 from contributions alone. Their next largest source of income is from contracts, bringing in $68,700, followed by the sale of their solar cooking devices at $13,130. SCI’s total revenue in 2018 was $1,043,639.
SCI’s “program expenses” is around 76%, so $0.76 of a dollar donated to SCI goes to their cause.
SCI assists people by teaching methods to make a solar cooker, and by providing people with the materials to make one. They do this by partnering with leaders of communities in need of solar cooking technology. SCI oversees missions into these communities with the intent to educate the local people on solar cooking techniques, and solar cooker building designs.
SCI speaks at the United Nations and other solar cooking events to advocate for solar cooking as a clean, cheap way of cooking. They also test many solar cooker designs, as well as specific solar cooker products, and rate them based off of their output power. This information is publicly available on their website to allow people to decide which solar cooker would be the best for them.
SCI wants to spread its agenda to even more developing countries. They plan to partner with large organizations to accomplish this goal such as the World Health Organization, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), the International Organization for Standardization, as well as many national governments and other nonprofits.
They plan to strengthen their relationship with other like minded organizations, and with other governments of developing countries. SCI plans to do this by presenting evidence that solar cookers are a clean and economical way of cooking food.
SCI also wants to expand upon their online database, and provide a web forum for partners to share solar cooking practices.
SCI’s distribution of solar cookers saved many lives of refugees from the Darfur refugee crisis. Before, if Darfur refugees left their camps to search for firewood, they ran the risk of being beaten, raped, castrated, and/or killed. The deployment of solar cookers to these camps meant refugees no longer had to leave the safety of their camps to search for a cooking fuel source.
SCI established a standardized system to rate the power of solar cookers, which allows people to quickly make a decision on which solar cooker is best for them.
SCI gained special consultative status with ECOSOC (the United Nations), which allows them to teach global leaders about the benefits of solar cookers at a much greater capacity than before.