Solar Household Energy: Solar cooking for economic development and environmental relief

Half of the world’s population relies on wood fires to cook.

C e n t r a l    A m e r i c a

HotPotTM Training Programs Implemented in El Salvador

Our eight partners in El Salvador are currently implementing HotPot solar cooking programs. The women in El Salvador who received training in November are conducting monthly meetings in order to share solar cooking experiences and exchange new recipes. These meetings are part of the follow-up phase of the solar cooking project in El Salvador that is providing HotPots, solar cooking training, and follow-up support to 1,000 families. The women either participate in a micro-credit or work-exchange payment program. The payment plan was developed in conjunction with each partner group and reflects the realities of the different communities. Additionally, we are conducting solar cooking technology exchanges between local communities to spread the word about solar cooking.

Please click on the blue markers to see the names and locations of our partner organizations -- (to view larger map click here)

Posted: Summer 2009

Background Information: El Salvador and Guatemala

El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America with approximately 6.6 million inhabitants. Although it is not as densely populated, Guatemala has a larger population of 12.4 million. Both countries are growing fast: each has a fertility rate of 3.58 to 4.5 children per woman and a corresponding average growth rate of 2% to 2.6% per year. Approximately 75% of the population relies on burning wood to cook which causes enormous strain on the environment, the economy and on individual health.

El Salvador has suffered 92% loss of its forest cover and currently experiences a deforestation rate of 4.1% per year. In Guatemala, forest cover loss is around 66% with a 2% annual deforestation rate. The heavy use of fuel wood for cooking contributes significantly to ongoing deforestation. As the forests disappear, the lives of the people who depend on wood for cooking fuel become more difficult.

For instance, women and girls are responsible for procuring fuel wood and they must travel farther from home as wood becomes more scarce. This task demands 9 to 20 hours per week and minimizes opportunities to attend school and participate in income-generating activities. In other areas, it is no longer feasible to gather wood. Families in these areas can spend up to 25% of their income to purchase fuel wood.

In addition to the negative environmental and economic impact of fuel wood dependence, women and children suffer from health problems caused by cooking inside small, enclosed kitchens that often lack windows or other ventilation. Women and children inhale toxic smoke for hours a day, the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes a day, according to the WHO.

To alleviate stress on the environment and improve the quality of life SHE is working to introduce the HotPot solar cooking oven.

----- Photos -----
"Women Serving First Solar Cooked Meal" Tecpan, Guatemala, 2008 (left)
"Community Promoter Instructing" Huizucar, El Salvador, 2007 (middle)
"Enjoying First Solar Cooked Meal" San Salvador, El Salvador, 2007 (right)

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