De-forestation De-forestation as far as the eye can seeSleepless nights are a call to action

Regula Ochsner, the founder of the Solar cooker project, was active in 1970’s in the south of Madagascar as ‘animateur’ for female projects sponsored by Swiss Development Help (now known as DEZA). When she returned to the country in 1998, she was horrified to see that, in the meantime, complete forests had disappeared, with the resulting loss of much of the manifold and unique flora and fauna. It was clear to her that the natural habitat of Country would be destroyed in no time at all if the deforestation continued at the same pace.

Several sleepless nights later, it was obvious that something had to be done.

First activities in MadagascarFirst activities in Madagascar under a tentThe solar cooker project was born

Back in Switzerland, Regula Ochsner began informing herself about more resource saving ways of cooking, as she saw that the largest proportion of the felled trees was being used to cook meals. After a long search, she met a retired carpenter from Hölstein, Eduard Probst. 20 years earlier, influenced by his observation of Bedouins in the Sahara, he had developed a solar cooker, which in the meantime, was in use in many countries. Eduard Probst, who was also founder of the ‘Förderverein Solarkocher’, was captivated by the idea of promoting the concept of solar cooking in Madagascar.

Eduard ProbstEduard Probst helps with the assembly of solar cookersAnd so it came to pass that, in autumn of 2000, a container with 500 solar cooker kits was shipped to Toliara. The solar cooker project was reality. Early in 2001, Madagascan carpenters began assembling solar cookers under a tent.

Daniel Ramampiherika, Magagascan Professor for renewable energy at the university of Toliara and President of a local environmental organisation, also made a major contribution to the success of the solar cooker project. He spontaneously agreed to help. He had already developed solar cooker prototypes but he had not had the finance to realise and promote his ideas.

Regula Ochsner and Professor Daniel RamampiherikaRegula Ochsner and Professor Daniel RamampiherikaThe solar cooker was first presented in the villages around Toliara, where Regula Ochsner had previously been active. The people were impressed by both the working and the advantages of the cooker. Almost every family in Miary and Antakoaky wanted buy a cooker, to be paid off in instalments. Radio and television reports helped the project to additional visibility.