Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GWWI Women and Water on Wednesdays: Solar CooKit - Using the Sun to Clean Water

One of the cheapest and greenest ways to clean water is to harness the heat of the sun! As Mama Solar, GWWI Solar CooKit Trainer says, 'the sun is free and we here in Africa have plenty of it!'   The sun's heat is used to pasteurize water which has the same effects as boiling, but is much cheaper and is less damaging to the environment. Boiling is one of the easiest and most widely practiced water treatments promoted around the globe, but is prohibitive in developing countries for several reasons. 1) fuel or coal is costly for families making less than a $1 a day 2) wood collection contributes to deforestation 3) burning fuel, coal or wood creates air pollution.

Carrying Wood

The process of boiling requires the water to heat to 100 Celsius. Once it reaches this high temperature, it kills disease-causing germs. Pasteurization, however, requires the water only to be heated to 60 Celsius, but at a longer sustained heat. This can be achieved by putting contaminated clear water in a covered black pot (which can be painted with simple chalkboard paint) to attract heat, enclosed in a large clear plastic bag to contain the heat, and placed inside a Solar CooKit to intensify the heat.

Solar CooKit with bag

The Global Women's Water Initiative introduces the Solar CooKit as one of the core technologies women learn at our Women and Water Trainings. On Day 1, women make their own Solar CooKit! Made simply with recycled cardboard boxes, reflective material (aluminum foil, the inside of juice boxes etc), cloth for lining and reinforcing the edges, and glue. In just a few short hours the women have their first technology completed and ready to use!

The finished Solar CooKits!

During the rest of the Training week, they set the CooKits up in the morning if it's a sunny day to clean their water, share recipes and cook delicious food. They leave them to sit in the sun while they spend the rest of the day in training sessions and building other technologies. When they return after a few to several hours (depending on the strength of the sun that day) their water is clean and their food is cooked!  

Food made with the CooKits

There are so many reasons to love the Solar CooKits. All the materials to make the CooKit are available locally.  Women have less dependence on coal and fuel and reduction in deforestation. Once they have the technology, cooking is free – on sunny days of course! And most important, women are freed up to do other things while they are cooking and cleaning their water. WIN for the women, WIN for the environment, WIN for family health!

You can make one too! Download the instructions and recipes here from the Solar Cookers International website. 
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