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msafi ri SOLAR POWER 80 Solar Cookers have many benefi ts – they improve quality of life for the users; lessening the need to walk great distances to fi nd wood, and reducing the risk of dangerous encounters; and they have a benefi cial impact on the environment by helping to prevent deforestation and preserving the wildlife's natural habitats. This in turn ensures that tourism continues to provide the much-needed income for the area. This project is already gaining international notice for pioneering a unique solution to problems facing wildlife reserves and neighbouring communities throughout the African Continent. The Mfuwe Solar Cooker Project is a good example of a win- win situation whereby the lodges support the introduction of Solar Cooker technologies to halt deforestation and improve villagers' quality of life by providing access to clean energy cooking technologies. Although no formal studies have been conducted, any of Zambia's newest Solar Chefs will happily confi rm that " food cooked with the sun just tastes better". A short documentary covering the introduction of the Solar Cookers in March 2007 can also be viewed at www. solarcookersforafrica. com ? 2 SOLAR ENTREPRENEURS PROGRAMME The second pioneering project is an entrepreneurs programme based in South Africa. Entrepreneurs sell a range of Solar Technologies including basic lighting systems, cell phone chargers, Solar Cooker and related products such as fuel effi cient stoves ( requiring much less fi rewood) and retained heat cookers ( used to either fi nish meals off or keep food warm long after dark). Entrepreneurs are able to offer solar technologies to clients at substantially reduced prices through a voluntary Carbon Offset Scheme ( funds come from UK travellers offsetting their fl ights to support this project in South Africa). This project seeks to stimulate Southern Africa's largely ignored solar potential, using locally- based entrepreneurs. The project is focused on South Africa to begin with, but aims to establish a model that can quickly be replicated in neighbouring countries with similar socio- economic situations such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Using fi rewood for cooking is an increasingly sensitive issue, with potentially devastating ecological, economic and social consequences for both current and future generations of Africans. In areas where fi rewood has completely run out, communities are exposed to the dual impacts of fl uctuating oil prices and the negative affects of deforestation, such as reduced soil fertility through more run- off and loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction. Using locally- based members of the community adds a high level of sustainability and helps to overcome any initial cultural or language barriers. This project starts in communities bordering the Kruger Park and Polokwane, the capital city of Limpopo province, North of Johannesburg. Studies reveal that the poorest urban households spend between 20 to 40% of their income meeting daily cooking requirements; ? Each year, means burned, mainly for cooking purposes. ? Today, over 2 billion people in the world suffer from fi rewood shortage. ? The ' hottest' solar cookers can reach over 300 º C and can heat up one litre of water in eight minutes. ? Solar Cookers reduce an estimated 3.5 tons per year of CO2 and are a major tool to halting deforestation. some 2 billion tons of wood are ' energetically utilised', which did YOU know? the poorer the home, the higher the percentage of income spent. This project provides immediate environmental, economic, health and social benefi ts and is based on a model that engages local communities and encourages grass- roots sustainability. This project is not fi nancially viable without the Carbon Offset funding. This is accessible due to the fact that the renewable energy technologies introduced reduce the need to burn fossil fuels such as coal, paraffi n/ kerosene and fi rewood. THE WAY FORWARD The new millennium is seeing a revolution in the way Africa and the world uses its available natural resources. Solar energy is Africa's most abundant resource, capable of putting Africa at the forefront of this revolution and providing for all of the continent's needs. The sun is able to provide for all of Africa's energy needs today and tomorrow without causing any harm to future generation's opportunities to enjoy the same ( if not better) standard of living and right to a healthy environment. Continual reliance on fossil fuels will cost the earth. The Mfuwe Solar Cooker and Entrepreneurs projects are managed and run by Solar Cookers for Africa – an NGO formed in January 2007 to highlight and co- ordinate Solar Cooker activity across the Continent. Solar Cookers for Africa relies on donations to support Solar Cooker activities across the African Continent; for more information about how you can support the spread of Solar Cookers please go to www. solarcookersforafrica. com INFORMATION TINA STALLARD/ WWW. TINASTALLARD. COM