Monday, April 13, 2009

Tanzania ~ Solar Cooking & Water Testing Workshop

In Musoma, Tanzania I performed a Solar & Integrated Cooking / Safe Water Workshop, together with SCI's EA trainers, from the 20th to the 24th of January. I was delighted to be working closely with two of SCI's lead trainers, Faustine Odaba and John Amayo in this endeavor as we teamed up with locally-based TanzSolar and Global Resource Alliance (GRA) to introduce solar cooking, water testing, solar lighting and water pasteurization to 35 participants from neighboring communities on Lake Victoria. Attendees of the workshop included WID (Women in Development) and GAD (Gender and Development) women’s groups, local health workers, Victoria Farms fishing and farming professionals, energy conservation specialists, secondary school teachers and students of Musoma Tech’s permaculture studies. 36 local men and women participated in the 4-day Solar / Integrated Cooking and Safe Water Workshop in Musoma, Tanzania in January, 2009.

Faustine translates as I introduce the group to SCI with a PowerPoint presentation.

The participants came from a variety of professional & educational backgrounds, each with their own cooking techniques.

SCI's East Africa Director, Margaret Owino and I worked together to develop a comprehensive training schedule for the workshop, which incorporated solar cooking and water pasteurization procedures and techniques, practical use and manufacture of the CooKit and Hay Basket, energy conservation issues, promotional activities, and introduction of solar lighting and water testing concepts. I provided detailed instruction on water testing techniques with the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) on three consecutive days, allowing the participants to collect samples from their local water sources, perform hands-on testing with the Colilert test tube and 3M Petrifilm, and then critically analyze the results.

The workshop got a crash course in water testing with the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML).

Participants making solar cookers out of materials purchased in the small town of Musoma, in northern Tanzania.

CooKits lined up in a row, cooking local dishes like rice, Ugali, vegetables and meat stew.

Participants took the water tests home with them and incubated them overnight, keeping the tests on their bodies while sleeping. The following day we interpreted the results of the tests, and workshop participants now know which water sources are good and who's water needs to be treated. Since the CooKit is able to pasteurize water as well as cook food, we feel good knowing that those with contaminated water sources now have an inexpensive way to treat their water.

Making Hay Baskets was also a focal point of the workshop, where integrated cooking was introduced and explained. A Hay Basket is not only able to keep food hot for up to six hours, but is able to continue cooking food that's been brought to a boil. The combination of a CooKit and Hay Basket can effectively cook two meals on a sunny day without the need for any wood at all.

Musoma workshop participants with certificates.

Workshop participants learned the techniques quickly, and are enthusiastic to use and teach these new solar cooking and water treatment skills in their nearby villages and communities. I always learn a lot about the many cultural and technological differences in Africa from SCI's talented and experienced staff during these trainings, and judging from the enthusiasm of the 35 participants there will be plenty more work to be done in this area. We will plan the first follow-up on this training in August of this year, and I will work closely with TanzSolar, GRA and SCI/EA to gather feedback and combine our collective goals and objectives to ensure a successful and sustainable outcome.

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