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Recycled materials make solar cookers, save trees in Mali

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 2 months ago

Recycled materials make solar cookers, save energy, trees in Mali

Gnibouwa Diassana of Bla, Mali, shows the perseverance and experimentation that is helping spread solar cooking in Africa. Mr. Diassana has built and distributed 32 solar box cookers and 11 solar panel cookers in Bla and other nearby communities. The cookers in Bla receive frequent use.

Mr. Diassana got his first set of plans from Solar Cookers International in 1995, and adapted the plans to use durable materials that were available locally. While many correspondents from West Africa have difficulty finding construction materials, Mr. Diassana, through perseverance, has been able to find sources for all the materials in or near Bla. “Cardboard is available in big towns,” he writes. “Plywood, glass, aluminum foil, sheet metal and plastic bags are available in Bla and neighboring towns.”

Mr. Diassana also thinks creatively. He notes that tea, a popular beverage in Mali, is shipped from China in boxes lined with aluminum foil which can be reused for making reflectors for solar cookers.

Large pieces of cardboard are difficult to find, so he makes his solar cookers from five pieces of cardboard which he patches together using small thin pieces of cardboard or pieces of satin fabric (glued or sewn into place to hold the large parts together).

As plastic bags available in Bla are not especially heat resistant, Mr. Diassana has designed a frame made from electrical wire. Putting the plastic over this frame keeps the the bag away from the hot cooking pot.

Mr. Diassana also learned to cook locally popular foods in solar ovens. “It has been wonderful to cook very easily the Tô in the solar box compared to the traditional way on fire,” he writes. “Tô is a basic meal in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal, cooked with cereal flour (millet, sorghum and corn) accompanied by sauce.”

Having proven the value of solar cooking for himself, Mr. Diassana then spread the word.

Adapted from an article by Ramón Coyle in Solar Cooker Review, Vol. 6 No. 2, August 2000, published by Solar Cookers International. Used with permission.


UPDATE: Mr. Diassana won a "2006 Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy" worth 2,500 pounds sterling that will enable his project Sun for All to increase production of cookers and reach out to more women's groups and other community organizations. Most of the 95 solar cookers he has built, using a Swiss design, have gone to organizations of artisans, nonprofits, women's groups and individual families. To get cookers into the hands of people who need them, he has sold them at half price or on credit. He estimates that about 950 people have directly benefited from his cookers, while 10,000 more have seen his exhibitions and demonstrations. Radio and television coverage has spread the word further. His project has received some outside support, but his personal donations have sometimes exceeded 40% of the project's budget.

E-mail. Adapted from Solar Cooker Review, Vol. 12 No. 2, August 2006.


For other stories about solar power, see:

Unique rental model brings solar power to remote Lao villages

Solar power hearing aid battery offers hope for deaf in developing world

Solar-powered boats bring education, sustainable energy to poor communities

Solar lamp replaces hazardous kerosene in Indian villages

Low tech systems improve water, sanitation in remote Afghan communities

Micro-hydro electrifies remote South American communities

Grameen Shakti, empowerment through renewable energy

From fu fu to solar power, Fab Labs let people make what they need

Bhutan’s yak herders prefer solar power to kerosene and firewood

Solar cooking helps to save the planet

Solar water disinfection saves lives, money in largest Kenyan slum

World’s first solar cooker village helps cut deforestation in Somalia

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