When I was volunteering at the 6th Solar Cookers International world conference at the Muni Seva Ashram in Gujarat India, I was struck by the enormity of the challenge to make clean cooking solutions available to the 3 billion people worldwide who are currently cooking over open fires. Approximately 3 in 7 people worldwide cook over fires fueled by wood or dung, walk miles to collect firewood and/or spend much of their limited resources on fuel. Indoor air pollution kills 1,250 children under age five, daily.
In India alone, there are over 1 million premature deaths due to household air pollution a year. Additionally, 64% of the population, nearly 1 billion, people rely on solid fuels. Because much of India’s population is rural, cooking accounts for a major share of the total energy consumption in homes. Indians (including the Indian diaspora) and Solar Cookers International have a key role to play in being leaders on the solution.
Solar cooking is a solution that can reduce the risk of respiratory diseases caused by inhaling particulate matter from smoky cooking fires, reduce waterborne diseases by enabling water pasteurization, reduce the incidence of burns, decrease incidents of assault to women and children collecting firewood, protect sensitive environments, and free-up limited resources otherwise spent on fuel. Solar Cookers International (SCI) is a non-profit that improves human and environmental health by supporting the expansion of effective carbon-free solar cooking in world regions of greatest need. SCI leads through advocacy, research, and strengthening the capacity of the global solar cooking movement. Please watch our 2-minute video “All About Access” below to learn more about our work.
Cooking food with no-emission, decentralized, free solar energy helps break the cycle of energy poverty. Using no-emission solar energy to cook and make drinking water safe improves health, builds resilient families, boosts local economies, empowers women and children, and helps achieve all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Solar cooking improves the quality of life and provides a way to adapt to a changing world. Solar cooking has been identified as a solution to alleviate much of the problems attributed with fuelwood consumption such as deforestation, pollution, smoke emissions and its associated health detriments.
As of 2020, there were 809,515 known solar cookers in India, the second largest known number of solar cookers in the world. A quarter of SCI’s global advisors are from India sharing expertise on institutional solar cooking, empowering rural women, and sustainable businesses. Because of this strong relationship, SCI decided to host its most recent global conference, the 6th World Conference, in India to showcase institutional scale solar cooking (such as at the Muni Seva Ashram). We brought leaders from all around the world to India learn from these inspiring examples. SCI also continues to use its consultative status with the United Nations to bring these important voices from solar cooking leaders (Indian and otherwise) to the United Nations to advocate for solar cooking. For example, Solar Cookers International invited SCI Global Advisor Dr. Janak McGillian to speak at the recent United Nations Climate Dialogues.
I was so inspired and motivated by seeing what was possible in India, and for the world, with Solar Cookers International, that I knew I wanted to become more involved. When the opportunity presented itself to join the SCI Board of Directors, I jumped at the chance. Now, I am honored to be reaching out to you as the Solar Cookers International Board President. With the support of leaders and advocates within India, the India diaspora, and Solar Cookers International, we can continue to work together to positively influence the rest of the world to advocate for the billions of people that lack access to safe and sustainable cooking fuel. Please sign up for more information here to learn more and receive the latest updates.
Shishpal Rawat is an accomplished Senior Executive, Board Member, and Thought Leader with 30 years of success across the semiconductor, education, and information and technology services industries. Shishpal was with Intel for 28 years where he spearheaded Intel’s external EDA enabling programs in research, standards development and equity investments. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Accellera and President of IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation. Currently he is serves as President of Solar Cookers International. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.