|Solar Cookers in the Third World (GTZ, 1990, 228 p.)|
|3. Conditions of Acceptance for Solar Cookers|
Decisions for or against solar cookers are predisposed by the social situation, living conditions and customs of the native populace.
Poverty: If the "poor" majority of the Third World's people is
the target group, then solar cooker projects must be first and foremost to the
benefit of the rural population. In India, Kenya, Mali and the Sudan, about four
out of five people live in rural areas - usually with more than half of them at
or below the poverty line - as farm workers, tenant farmers, subsistence
(itinerant) traders, often enough within the subsistence economy. More than 80% of all arable land in Mali and the Sudan is used for subsistence farming. The low, unstable - and in the Sudan even sinking purchasing power of the rural population is an important boundary condition for the introduction of solar cookers.
Population groups: The conditions for introducing solar cookers may be more advantageous for some population groups than for others. Urban middle-class families with modest savings, for example, are more likely to have an open attitude toward experiments. On the other hand, solar-cooker dissemination efforts require the aid of certain groups, e.g. women's groups, artisans' groups or other groups in influential positions, like ethnic leaders (maliks) and religious authorities (mullahs) in Pakistan. For a solar cooker project to reach its target group, it can hardly do without such intermediary target groups, who then proceed to pass the idea on to the intended users. However, it is not always easy to choose the "right" intermediary target group - consider, for example, the caste system in India, where the wrong choice could do more harm than good to a dissemination program.
Systems of values: When a patriarchal social order allows only men to make important decisions, or when religious norms like the observance of Ramadan call for strict fasting from dawn to dusk, this can have substantial effects on the usefulness of solar cookers. In polygamous Mali households (about 30%), each wife has her own hearth and "pantry" within the estate, even though they all take turns cooking. In Kenya, too, each wife in a polygamous household has her own separate hearth. In the Sudan, the adult women in large rural families take turns cooking. Such cultural and socio-structural aspects are of great significance in connection with the introduction of solar cookers.
The woman's role: Despite similar systems of values, the woman's role can differ decidedly from one region to another within a given country.
- Mali: About 65$ of the Mali population are Muslims; despite the Islamic influence, however, women have managed to maintain some degree of economic independence. Since men and women have separate spheres of everyday life and work, each has his/her own separate responsibilities and source of income. While the men derive most of their income from selling agricultural produce, the women are responsible for growing/procuring the family's food, with the notable exception of grain. Basically, the actual economic and social role of Mali women depends on their ethnic affiliation and main source of income, e.g. from farming or stock breeding.
- Kenya: Kenyan women also play a leading role in their country's development process - probably thanks to their gardening/farming activities and related income.
- Pakistan: Women's activities in Pakistan are confined mostly to the household. Also in the Afghan refugee camps, Islam exerts a substantial influence on everyday life and on the social order. Social life is strictly patriarchal and completely excludes women from all public activity. It would be just as impossible for them to participate in a public solar cookers demonstration or other event as it would be for them to engage in household activities outside of the courtyard area: fetching water or wood, shopping for groceries, etc.
- The Sudan: Sinking real income in the Sudan has led to closer integration of women into working life.
- Conclusions: A woman's role - especially her voice in family affairs, use of income, etc. - has a substantial effect on the introduction and use of solar cookers; consequently, the actual effects of dissemination campaigns and related educational programs cannot help but vary accordingly.