I caught this story on the BBC World Service’s “The World Today” this morning (Singapore Time) .  The story featured an interview with a gentleman whom I think might be the inventor of this beautifully simple solution.  (Not completely certain as I was half asleep –  my radio alarm clock turns on to the BBC to wake me up every morning).

It’s just two cardboard boxes and a sheet of clear plastic, and uses the same principle that makes the inside of my car blazing hot after a few hours in the sun with the windows all wound up.  I would not have made the link between burning flesh against my car seat or steering wheel, but someone has, with the realization that the heat trapped in such a system turns a pot of water put inside hot enough to cook food in.  It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity.  And it could help a large number of people in developing countries that get a lot of sun, people who are currently relying on burning wood in order to cook their meals.

The radio announcer referred to a video on YouTube.  This is it:

The kit is sold by a company called Kyoto-energy for 5 Euros.  It’s easy to ship, as the boxes can be packed flat, and the cost of materials is very low.  This is the page from their online catalog:

kyotobox

One of the points made by the interviewee was that the smoke generated by wood fires for cooking done indoors contributes to respiratory problems for the members of the household.  Laura and I got a sense of that during one of our walks in Sapa, up in the mountains north of Hanoi, Vietnam, close to the border with China.  Our guide took us into one of the small, dark homes on the hillside, and the walls and ceiling were covered with soot, and everything smelt of wood smoke.  The next morning, we attended sunday mass in a small and crumbling but extremely quaint Jesuit church  The sunday-best clothing of the locals we sat amongst had obviously been stored in homes saturated with regular doses of the smoke of wood fires.   There are many days in the year when the mountains of Sapa are completely covered by cloud, which obscures the sun and the stunning and amazing views.  Despite the cloud, there is still enough sun-light for the rice plants in the terraced padi fields to grow, but I wonder if the solar cooking box would work in such conditions.

Post Posting Note:  One of the nice things about WordPress is that they suggest similar posts at the end of each page.  From the list of suggested links, I discovered this article – similar in concept, except that the box has hot coals in it.  Read here, on the Safely Gathered In blog.