The Prospect of Solar Stoves at CRHP

In CRHP’s pursuit of using appropriate technology in the Project Villages, we have begun investigating the practicality of solar stoves as an alternative to stovetops for the villages. Typically, solar stoves are an expensive and an unaffordable investment for people in rural areas, but 100 Suns is an organization that works to disseminate a simple and inexpensive design that can be made by anyone with locally sourced materials. Amogh Sahaje, the designer of 100 Suns, said that a key component to the conception of his design is to ensure it is “DIY, so that anyone can easily make it and fix it in their homes.”

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Director Amogh Sahaje with the Village Health Workers, explaining how solar stoves may benefit their own communities.

The stove uses inexpensive mirrors as panels that converge sunlight into one focal point that can then reflect the light energy to the cooking pot, allowing water to be boiled and food to be cooked efficiently. In fact, based on the degree of sunlight, this solar stove can often cook the food even faster than a regular stove.

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Pictured above is the solar stove design, which was hand-made at CRHP.

100 Suns is one partner of The Clean Cooking Alliance, which brings awareness and solutions to the global need for accessible, efficient, and clean cookstoves. In India, 80 85% of the poor and rural population still use biomass fuel such as firewood, straw, and cow dung cakes for cooking food. This method of cooking increases greenhouse gas production and results in pollution. Not only is this biomass fuel combustion harmful for the environment, but it also adversely impacts individual health and livelihood, disproportionately affecting women and children.

Women are often expected to spend long hours collecting fuels to cook for their families, but this can be a dangerous process without a clean, affordable, and appropriate option. Additionally, due to limited space for cooking, cooking spaces are inside in poorly ventilated areas. Long hours of exposure to cooking smoke contributes to numerous acute and chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases such as lung cancer, pneumonia, and lower respiratory infection. Additionally, cooking over an open fire can be extremely dangerous, especially for Indian women, who traditionally wear Saris. Saris, due to their design and material, become fire hazards and increase the risk of burn injuries.

There is a need for alternative, clean cooking methods in rural India. Not only can it benefit the environment, it can provide an affordable and healthier option for the poor, who are otherwise forced to scavenge for fuel that will allow them to cook food for their families. However, despite several governmental and non-governmental schemes designed to bring improved stoves to rural areas, the implementation has often been unsuccessful due to the significant lack of resources, inaccessibility of gas, and failure of these organization to recognize the needs of local women.

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Amogh, Ratna (VHW), and Jabar (CRHP Staff) adding the ingredients for tea.

To determine whether the work of 100 Suns would be considered appropriate technology for the Project Villages, the Village Health Workers (VHW) were invited to assess its feasibility. They excitedly participated in making traditional tea with the solar stove. Keeping in mind that this could help to positively impact the environment and the lives of local women, CRHP is looking forward to continuing to experiment with Amogh and his solar stove design. Before the design can be implemented in the villages, we are continuing to work together to make the design as affordable and accessible to the community as possible. Once it has been further developed, based on community interest, we will continue to explore its use in our Project Villages.

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Surekha (MHT Member) and Rekha (VHW) enjoying their solar brewed tea.

Pictures By: Pooja Singh; Written By Pooja Singh; Revised By: Annalise Tolley

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