I recently purchased a panel reflector solar cooker for $130. The HotPot was designed and developed by Solar Household Energy (www.she-inc.org) and is manufactured by Integrated Logistics Solutions (www.ils.com.mx) in Monterrey, Mexico. Its design uses simple scientific principles. The reflector focuses sunlight on a black pot containing food. The pot is enclosed in a transparent glass "greenhouse" that traps the heat absorbed by the black pot. The HotPot is excellent for slow-cooking vegetables, rice, legumes, and fish (and meat for my wife). Twice per week I buy locally grown organic produce at the Farmers Market, come home, cut it up, and toss it in the HotPot. It can cook up to 9 pounds of most foods within 3 to 4 hours. Preparation usually takes no more than 15 minutes of cutting and tossing into the pot. No liquids need to be added except for rice and beans because water is "sweated" out of the food. Cooking is even easier; I just set it outside facing the sun, and then rotate it twice to track the sun across the sky. Afterward I simply fold up the reflector, wash the black pot, and store them with the glass pot. Solar cooking requires no fossil fuel energy, is good for the environment, and requires minimal cleanup. In addition, the dishes I prepare are healthy and are excellent as leftovers.
Solar cookers can help solve two of the biggest problems in Haiti, deforestation and lack of clean water. Deforestation primarily results from poor people chopping down trees to make charcoal to fuel their stoves. Women often spend many hours every day collecting wood to make charcoal. A simple solution is to provide solar cookers with instructions to the women in each household. Haiti has abundant sunshine, and to become sustainable the Haitian people need to make use of this valuable, free resource. Solar cookers eliminate the need to cut down trees for charcoal. The time saved could be used by women and girls to improve the situation, perhaps through education. An additional benefit is that solar cookers can be used to effectively pasteurize water, thereby preventing water-borne diseases. Solar cookers are an extremely cost-effective solution to the problems of deforestation and water contamination. Solar Cookers International (http://www.solarcookers.org/) has an aid program to distribute solar CooKits, pots and Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPIs) in Haiti. This is an example of high-impact philanthropy, meaning charitable donations are used to maximize benefits by leveraging existing resources.