Solar cooking has numerous environmental, nutritional, and lifestyle benefits for everyone on earth, but there are a number of specific advantages for using solar cookers in developing countries. First, solar cookers aren't a health concern the way charcoal or wood cookers are. Second, they cook reliably no matter the condition of the local power grid.
Solar Cookers in Developing Countries: Reducing Health Hazards Associated With Food Prep
The majority of the world's population relying on solid fuels lives in areas lacking the public health infrastructure to deal with the massive amount of damage caused to their health. This includes Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and some countries in Central America and in East Asia and the Pacific. The death toll is staggering. The World Health Organization(WHO) has identified that up to 4.3 million pre-mature deaths are caused by pollutants from wood and kerosene cookstoves, more than one-quarter of them in India alone. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the inefficient cooking hearth.
Approximately 17 percent of annual premature lung cancer deaths in adults are attributable to exposure to carcinogens from household air pollution caused by cooking with solid fuels like wood, charcoal or coal. The WHO has concluded that cooking from fire is the greatest health risk in the world after high blood pressure, tobacco and alcohol, with more people dying from the incremental, ongoing inhalation of smoke from fires they ignite in their own homes than from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined.
In 23 countries, 10 percent of deaths are due to just two environmental risk factors: unsafe water, including poor sanitation and hygiene; and household air pollution due to solid fuel use for cooking. We haven't even talked about respiratory diseases caused by solid fuels for cooking. The data show that household air pollution from such fires causes acute lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer. Women and children in particular are often exposed to excessive amounts of small particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, known as PM2.5, which are considered the most dangerous to human health.
Indian women cooking in households reliant on solid fuel are exposed to a mean 24-hour PM2.5 concentration of 337 micrograms per cubic meter, more than ten times the WHO indoor air quality guidelines
How GoSun is Trying to Have More Solar Cookers in Developing Countries
GoSun was the first and only solar cookstove company to receive financial support from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership founded by Hillary Clinton in 2010 to raise over $400 million for cleaner stoves and cooking fuels in the developing world. It was awarded a $75,000 grant for a participatory design process in Guatemala, where families tested a variety of designs that the GoSun team worked to maximize effectiveness.
In 2015, GoSun piloted the use of its cookers in Haiti. The following story comes from our partners Don Miller and the Friends of Belle Riviére,
"The GoSun ovens were well received. Our cooks and the women’s group all seemed genuinely excited at the new potential the stove could offer. I challenged their true intention openly inviting them to say “no” early on and save everyone a lot of trouble if they didn’t really want to “give up” charcoal (even though the oven will only supplement charcoal). They responded with a resounding interest in the oven."
Since our first explorations in Guatemala, GoSun believes it can change lives around the world. Projects in Guatemala, Haita, and Peru are just one front in our global initiative, that have take shape or will take shape with the help of partners and passionate social entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, Liberia, Ghana and Puerto Rico. We are primed to make an impact by bringing our technology to those in the world who could benefit from what we do the most.
To follow GoSun Global’s next steps of getting more solar cookers in developing countries, or collaborate with our global initiatives, please register by subscribing to our Global Updates Mailing List here.