Mama Solar Shines

Faustine Odaba, or Mama Solar as she has been so aptly named, is the Sun Queen  – teaching women all over Africa how to cook and pasteurize their water using simple solar technologies. She is the award-winning Founder and Director of Natural Resources and Waste Resource Alliance dedicated to promoting eco-friendly technologies. Her motto, “Waste No Waste” embodies the work she does by teaching grassroots women to pasteurize water and cook using the solar technology, conducting simple water tests using the Portable Microbiology Lab, and making bags, mats and other household products crocheted out of used plastic bags.

Mama Solar has been one of GWWI’s core trainers, having joined us at our Women and Water Training in 2008 in Kenya, 2010 in Ghana and again in Uganda 2011.  We first met Mama Solar at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006. We were researching and laying the foundation for our first Women and Water Training and connecting with Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement and GROOTS Kenya, who ultimately became our partners for our 2008 Training.  Mama Solar’s bright smile and infectious spirit not to mention her delicious corn bread amongst the 100s of thousands of people, drew us into her tent where we discovered one of the most intriguing and simple technologies.  She introduced us to the Solar CooKit as an affordable technology to using fuel and firewood for cooking and boiling water!

The Solar CooKit is one of the few free ways to treat water by pasteurizing it with the sun. The process of pasteurization doesn’t require the high heat of boiling (100deg Celsius) but rather a sustained lower heat for a longer period of time. With a sunny day, a black pot to increase the heat, a plastic bag to place the pot to trap the heat and the Solar CooKit, women can treat their water. Its free and because they just put it in the CooKit and leave since it requires no tending, they have time to do other things like chores or even avail of livelihood opportunities.

cooking with the solar cookit

The Solar CooKit is made simply out of cardboard, glue and reflective materials. Its can be used anywhere there is sun. Mama Solar has brought the technology to women in refugee camps in Somalia and the Sudan, slum dwellers in Kenya, and rural women all over Africa. She has stories of women collecting old boxes and the foil from cigarette packages and inside juice boxes to make their own CooKits.

With women like Mama Solar who shine as powerfully as the sun, the future of women and water in Africa is bright and full of hope!

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