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Solar Cooking in the Sahel

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  • 1 Climate and Geohazard Services, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 2 School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 3 Agrometeorological Applications Associates/TchadSolaire, Ferney-Voltaire, France
  • 4 Space and Atmospheric Physics Group, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
  • 5 water@leeds, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
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Solar cookers have the potential to help many of the world's poorest people, but the availability of sunshine is critical, with clouds or heavy atmospheric dust loads preventing cooking. Using wood for cooking leads to deforestation and air pollution that can cause or exacerbate health problems. For many poor people, obtaining wood is either time-consuming or expensive. Where conflicts have led to displaced people, wood shortages can become acute, leading to often violent clashes between locals and refugees. For many refugee women, this makes collecting wood a high-risk activity.

For eight years, Agrometeorological Applications Associates and TchadSolaire (AAA/TS) have been training refugees to manufacture and use solar cookers in northeastern Chad, where there are more than 240,000 refugees. Solar cookers are cheap and simple to make. They are clean and safe, greatly reduce the need for wood, reduce conf licts, reduce the time girls spend collecting wood (thus favoring education), and allow pasteurization of water. Around 140,000 people in the area are now eating solar-cooked food.

Using long-term records of direct sunshine from routine surface measurements and aerosol retrievals from SEVIRI on board Meteosat, we present a climatology of conditions suitable for solar cooking in North Africa and West Africa. Solar cookers could be widely used, on an average of about 90% of days in some locations, with large seasonal and spatial variations from changing solar elevations, dustiness, and cloudiness. The climatology will facilitate the future distribution of solar cookers by organizations such as AAA/TS, who work using high-tech information to improve the lives of millions utilizing simple technologies.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: John Marsham, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK, E-mail: J.Marsham@leeds.ac.uk

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00182.2).

Solar cookers have the potential to help many of the world's poorest people, but the availability of sunshine is critical, with clouds or heavy atmospheric dust loads preventing cooking. Using wood for cooking leads to deforestation and air pollution that can cause or exacerbate health problems. For many poor people, obtaining wood is either time-consuming or expensive. Where conflicts have led to displaced people, wood shortages can become acute, leading to often violent clashes between locals and refugees. For many refugee women, this makes collecting wood a high-risk activity.

For eight years, Agrometeorological Applications Associates and TchadSolaire (AAA/TS) have been training refugees to manufacture and use solar cookers in northeastern Chad, where there are more than 240,000 refugees. Solar cookers are cheap and simple to make. They are clean and safe, greatly reduce the need for wood, reduce conf licts, reduce the time girls spend collecting wood (thus favoring education), and allow pasteurization of water. Around 140,000 people in the area are now eating solar-cooked food.

Using long-term records of direct sunshine from routine surface measurements and aerosol retrievals from SEVIRI on board Meteosat, we present a climatology of conditions suitable for solar cooking in North Africa and West Africa. Solar cookers could be widely used, on an average of about 90% of days in some locations, with large seasonal and spatial variations from changing solar elevations, dustiness, and cloudiness. The climatology will facilitate the future distribution of solar cookers by organizations such as AAA/TS, who work using high-tech information to improve the lives of millions utilizing simple technologies.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: John Marsham, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK, E-mail: J.Marsham@leeds.ac.uk

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00182.2).

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