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Solar Cooker Project


In 2006, Dr and Mrs. Clarice Snyder started a solar cooker project based upon designs available through Solar Cooker, International. The cookers, made with cardboard and aluminum foil, are very effective in cooking most foods without fire. Malawians typically cook with firewood - a practice which creates many environmental and health related problems. Women typically walk great distances to collect wood on a daily basis and this practice results in children being unattended for much of the day. The result is deforestation, terrible air quality due to constant cooking-fire smoke, and most tragically, unnecessary injury and harm to young children whose mothers spend most of the day away from home foraging for firewood.

The Snyders started the project with two Malawian's through a donation to purchase materials for production of the initial devices. Since then, the devices have been sold at approximately $5 each. This price, though seemingly low, provides enough to pay for production and purchase of more raw materials. Even at the low price, many Malawians cannot afford to purchase one so we hope to initiate a micro finance program so more can be made available for use.

Current Status

Since its beginning, the solar cooker project has since been adopted by Sustainable Resources, LTD, as a significant example of how "grassroots" fundraising and efforts can make a remarkable difference in the lives of Malawians. First, it has created an actual industry to be built upon and managed by local entrepreneurs. Second, the travel, training, and distribution efforts have created networking opportunities for the manufacturers and distributors in Malawi; it is especially significant that the primary distributor and trainer of this program has now created his own NGO to continue to promote and distribute the product. So far, this is happening without any further funding from Sustainable Resources; however, an additional donation toward materials and training would greatly boost distribution and usage.

Due to the extremely low cost of production, coupled with the willingness and enthusiasm of the Malawians who have been donating their efforts toward the development of this enterprise, a relatively small amount of funding would have a tremendous impact on the project's long-term success. Sustainable Resources believes that this particular project serves as a perfect example of the potential success of funding the initial start-up of an enterprise, and empowering the Malawians to develop the enterprise themselves. This is our goal; to break out of the traditional charity model which encourages passive consumption of donations, and replace it with a model that encourages grassroots involvement and entrepreneurial efforts from the recipients.