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September 2002 - Nr. 9


The Editor
Antje berichtet
Alpine Fest
KW and Beyond
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Siegfried & Roy
Minister David Turnbull
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Tourists safe
Rent a Bike
In the Flood's Wake
Automarkt Stabil
Fast 1000 Tote
Cook with Sun

Germany Teaches South Africans to Cook with the Sun

   TWIG - While delegates at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa discuss how sustainable development can be put into practice, Germany’s development agency Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) is already doing this in over 2,000 projects worldwide. In developing countries, the traditional source of energy for cooking is firewood. But in many regions, particularly in sere areas of South Africa, this resource is growing scarce. People often need to travel long distances on foot to find fuel. Trees and bushes are being cleared, putting increasing pressure on the environment.

As DW World reports, German scientists and industry have found a cost-effective and highly efficient solution to the problem, at least for people living in parts of the world where there is intense sunshine: solar stoves. The GTZ is helping to promote such equipment in South Africa, and many households are turning to the sun to prepare their food. The stoves help the poor save time and money, and are fuelled by the cleanest, cheapest renewable energy on earth.

In Hududi township, near Vryburg, South Africa, Anna Motsewabona opens a device that looks like a heavily loaded suitcase, but, is actually a stove. "I simply put it out to face the sun. Then I have to keep tasting the food to see if it’s cooked or not," she says. Motsewabona, 70, is one of a growing number of women who have adapted their cooking, and lifestyles, to the solar stove technology. For most of her life, Motswewabona cooked with wood, coal or paraffin. Although she now has electricity in her house, she and many others still find the costs of using it too high. So families are turning to solar stoves as a cheaper solution.

The initiative was launched through a partnership between the South African Department of Minerals and Energy and the GTZ. Project manager Eberhard Biermann says partnership members have had to overcome some skepticism within the community about the idea of cooking with sunlight. In Vryburg, local housewives were invited to an informational talk about the idea. "We discussed the matter, if the sun is shining what is it doing for the family," Biermann told DW-RADIO. "It can dry the washing, the sun can dry fruits, it can dry your body if you were in the water and all that." But cooking with the sun did not cross the women’s minds. And, when Biermann asked if they could imagine it, they laughed at him. Biermann says the most critical point is when people see how solar stoves can change their day-to-day lives. "Only if they burned their fingers, if they saw the bubbles coming out of the pot when the soup was cooking. Only then did they slowly start to understand and believe," he says.

Seven types of solar stoves have been introduced in South Africa. More than 800 have been sold so far. The components of one of the most popular models, the T16, are made in Germany, where the panels are laser cut and folded. But the stove is assembled locally, by Lightweight Technologies in Pretoria. Richard Palmer, managing director of Palmer Development Consulting, has conducted field tests of the various models and says the solar stove saves roughly 3 lbs. of live wood per family per day from being cut and consumed as cooking fuel. Moreover, use of paraffin, which is dangerously flammable, is down 33% in test areas. Palmer says the practical advantages of the stove are also significant: "This cooker would take cooking oil to about 185 degrees and you’d cook a meal for a family of six within an hour."


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