Uganda school solar cooking


Solar cooking in Uganda
By: Brooklyn VanderVeen, Jessica Mchale, Kensey Nadler and Macy Seidlitz

The Problem

In Uganda, much of the cooking is done with a three stone stove or open fire. This uses biomass or dung as fuel which creates soot and the release greenhouse gasses into the air such as methane and CO2. According to WHO 4.3millionpeople, a year die of household air pollution, most of the household pollution is caused from indoor cooking with an open fire. The major problematic emission, in this case, is Soot. Soot is particulate matter formed by a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. The particles are emitted directly from their source (3 stone fires) and cause serious environmental and health concerns. Inhalation of particulate soot is small enough to enter human lungs and blood stream and is linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths. Environmentally soot emissions result in haze (reduce visibility and quality in the air) and is linked to both acid rain and continual acidification of lakes and rivers. To protect the people and the environment in Soroti, it’s clear development of a more sustainable way of cooking is needed.


Soroti is located on the eastern side of Uganda in Africa. It is a rural community with very few paved roads and little access to technology.
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Population: The total population of Uganda is 37.5 million people
The total population of Soroti is around 49,000 people
Age Breakdown: about 50% are ages 0-14 and 50% 15 and up
Poverty: 53% of the people live below the poverty line in Soroti.
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Pilgrim Africa

Pilgrim Africa began as a small organization providing refugees, from Northern Uganda, a place to get simple medical, nutritional and psycho-social support. After providing relief and support for many years they began to resettle over 1000 families to ancestral lands. In 2008 Pilgrim Africa has played a large role in the control of Malaria by working alongside the government( Pilgrim Africa, 2017)

Beacon of Hope School

The Beacon of Hope school, located in Soroti, Uganda, started in 2005. Its focus was to educate abductees of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and war orphans. It is one of the best boarding schools in the region and provides schooling for over 500 rural youth. The students are mainly orphans, and all were former soldiers, abductees or victims of rape.
They have an extensive scholarship program that reaches students from “the bush”, an agricultural community where many of the people live on less than a dollar a day in grass huts without electricity or water.
Of their 698 students, 403 of them are on full scholarship. The scholarship includes: school, lodging, food, books, extracurriculars, clothing and even toiletries.

Cooking Style

All of the cooking is done over an open fire. They have a covered outdoor area where all of the cooking is done. The main source of protein is dry beans, which have to be cooked over the fire for a long period of time. This uses a lot of firewood which is a costly expense for the school.


Our solution would be to provide solar cooking that is easy and affordable. Much of the people are below the poverty line therefore we would need to have a program that helps the people with getting solar cook tops and learning how to use them. Our target area is a school in Uganda called the Beacon Of Hope. Through implementing them into the school, and teaching the students how to use them, we could help get them all over Uganda and the surrounding areas
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This image, taken from Insulated Solar Electric Cooking shows an example of what a typical cooker would look like. At the school they have an covered cooking area. We would install the solar panels on the roof of the cooking area to supply enough heat to cook beans for the students. We calculated that we would need a 40 square meter solar panel which is about 180 sq ft. This would probably be at least the size of their cooking facility roof. Here is the calculation to how we found this:
Beans: 100lbs
Water: 600lbs
Total 700lbs.
700 lbs X 1kg/2.2lb = 350Kg
time= 5 hours
Temp+ 100 degrees
c(specific heat) 4.2 J/g degree C
change in T: 80 degrees C

Power= work/time or P= mc delta T

Kg –> g = 350kgX1000g/kg= 350,000g
hr–> s= 5hrx3600s/1hr= 18,000s

(350,000gX(4.2J/gC) X 80C)/18,000s= 6533J/s
Just to make sure we always have enough electricity being provided we rounded this up to 8000J/s of total watts needed.

How big should the solar panel be?
The sun puts out energy at 1000W/m^2 at a 20% efficiency so about 200 W/m^2
if we need a total of 8000 W / 200W/m^2 we need a 40m^2 panel. Which works out to about 400 square feet.

At a cost of less than $1 per watt we could provide this big of a solar panel at a cost of $8,000. This may seem like a large up front cost but we think the payback time would be relatively short when taking into account the cost of firewood and the external cost of deforestation and health problems.We would have to have exact numbers of how much they spend on firewood daily because they may just have students go and chop it down and that would never really get paid back. But if they purchase their firewood it would be a relatively quick payback time.

Here is their website for more information about their program and needs:


Brooklyn VanderVeen: I am a third year liberal studies major. I want to teach elementary school, preferably 3rd grade. I am interested in this project, because it has to do with an energy technology and implementing it into a school.

Kensey Nadler: I am a second-year Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration major focusing on ecotourism and sustainability. I took interest in this project because of it’s potential to provide a sustainable way for this population to nourish themselves while providing less negative impact on the environment. I am passionate to work to provide an equal chance at a positive and fulfilling life experience for everyone and this would be a step in the right direction.

Jessica McHale: I am a 4th-year Anthropology-Geography major with a concentration in Environmental Studies & Sustainability. This project is of particular interest as it proposes ideas that have the potential to serve both the environment and the people in these areas.

You are doing OK. You got this project started for us to continue in future classes and research. Please fix the mistake and respond to the few statements I put below.
When you change from square meter to square foot, you have to multiply by about 3.3 twice because it’s the length times the width… so you’re looking about about 400 square foot. Also, below, the cost is now less than $1 per watt. We’re not sure there’d be a short payback time… we’d have to see.

  • Hi guys! not much going on here. Please get started.. see some of the other websites if you need ideas.
  • short bios of you guys?