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Helping Developing Countries

Helping the Environment



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NGO Programs

SUN OVENS International, Inc. has developed successful project models that incorporate the use of solar cooking into programs to improve the lives of people in the developing world. Most of the challenges of implementing a solar cooking project are more cultural then they are technical in nature. The ovens themselves have been designed to overcome some of the cultural challenges, but the involvement of a local NGO/PVO that understands the needs and the customs of the women using the ovens is absolutely essential to any projects success.

SUN OVENS International is looking to form working relationships with NGOs and PVOs in regions of the world that are blessed with an abundance of sunshine to develop and implement projects.

SUN OVENS can be utilized in sustainable programs in the following areas:

  Deforestation prevention
  Expanding womens capacities to transform conditions
  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  GLOBAL SUN OVEN Assembly plants
  Orphanage programs
  Refugee operations

Deforestation Prevention
With the growing problem of deforestation SUN OVENS will make a big difference. Throughout the Continent of Africa annual wood consumption for cooking is 454 kilograms (1,000 lbs.) of wood per person. A family of six using a GLOBAL SUN OVEN for 70% of their cooking needs would save 1.9 tons of wood per year. A GLOBAL SUN OVEN has a useful life of at least 20 years. Thirty eight tons of wood is saved by each oven. A VILLAGER SUN OVEN that is used in bakery operations can save 150 tons of wood each year compared to a charcoal fueled bakery.

Expanding Womens Capacities to Transform Conditions
The wide spread introduction of SUN OVENS into developing nations blessed with an abundance of sunshine can assist in a powerful way to accomplish five of the objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action, including:


  • Strengthening Womens Role in Environmental Sustainability
  • Promoting Womens Health
  • Educational Equality
  • Protection from Violence Against Women
  • Ending Womens Economic Inequality

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The combustion of fuel released from wood fires releases greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with potentially serious costs to the global economy and environment. SUN OVENS replace wood and/or charcoal as the primary source of cooking fuel eliminating tons of CO2 emissions. Over its 20-year life, one GLOBAL SUN OVEN will eliminate a total of 70 tons of CO2 emissions. Increasing GHG concentrations are likely to cause large negative economic impacts in the future. Each solar powered bakery will reduce the amount of GHGs, which would otherwise have been emitted.

GLOBAL SUN OVEN Assembly Plants
SUN OVENS International has developed an assembly system that allows ovens to be made in the area they will be used, dramatically reducing the cost of the ovens, shipping and creating local jobs. This complete assembly system includes the training, tools, instructional materials and follow-up support necessary to assemble GLOBAL SUN OVENS. Once an assembly plant has been established using a pre-agreed upon number of U.S. made components, the specifications are provided that will allow for the manufacturing of any of the components (with the exception of the gasket) to be locally produced.

VILLAGER SUN OVENS are currently in use in 40 countries around the world in bakeries. SUN OVENS International has developed an optional 150 piece Micro-Sun-Bakery package that enables the creation of a self-sustaining micro-enterprise to turn out fresh baked goods while creating jobs and eliminating the cost of fuel. This program helps to alleviate poverty and enhance the quality of life by empowering women to raise their standard of living through self-sustaining micro-enterprise. This enterprise will utilize the ultimate renewable resource, sunshine, to cost-effectively provide a needed food staple. Once funded, these bakeries can self-fund the expansion to additional locations.

Orphanage Programs
The growing AIDS crisis has created an ever-increasing need to care for orphans around the world. VILLAGER SUN OVENS are utilized in orphanages in three important ways:

  1. To cook food for the children without the expense of purchasing charcoal.
  2. To bake bread which can be sold to generate income for the orphanage.
  3. To teach the children a usable job skill of making bread, which helps them earn a living when they reach adulthood and leave the orphanage.

Refugee Operations
The arrival of a large inflow of refugees can place intense pressure on the environment of the host country. Deforestation is among the most significant environmental problems as competition for fuel wood increases. Using SUN OVENS as a preventive step, before environmental degradation occurs, will positively impact the environment while improving the quality of life of refugee families.

NGOs and PVOs that are interested in learning more about these programs or can see other ways that SUN OVENS can fit into their work should contact SUN OVENS International at



Tom Burns, the inventor of the SUN OVENS, has been a member of Rotary International for more than 40 years. It was Toms involvement in Rotary that showed him the need people around the world had for a way to cook that did not require cutting down trees.

A VILLAGER SUN OVEN at the Village of Hope School donated by Rotary District 6930 of Boca Raton Florida. 

Since 1986, Rotarians have supported SUN OVEN projects on five continents, saving countless trees and improving the lives of thousands of people. Rotary still remains an active participant in numerous projects around the world.

Tom Burns (left), the SUN OVEN inventor, Paul Munsen President of SUN OVENS International, and Rotarian Ken Schumann of Hartland, Wisconsin supervise the preparation of a sun cooked meal. Ken Schumann coordinated a matching grant through the Rotary Foundation to provide two VILLAGER SUN OVENS for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

District Governor elect Kent Converse, of district 5690, and Rotarian Sam Muyskens demonstrate a GLOBAL SUN OVEN to members of the Rotary Club Cap-Haitian, Haiti. The Rotary Clubs of District 5690, in cooperation with the Cap-Haitian Rotarians, are starting a GLOBAL SUN OVEN assembly plant in Lambert, Haiti in January 2004.


The TEMPLE SOLAR PROJECT (TSP) is a district level of Rotary District 6450 (the birthplace of Rotary Chicago) program established in November of 1997 in memory of Past District Governor William Temple ('94-'95).

In many underdeveloped nations, all cooking and baking is done with wood or wood converted to charcoal. Population growth has gradually consumed available fuel and now requires daylong journeys by women and children to locate remaining wood in many deforested lands. The conversion of scarce wood to charcoal in order to bake basic staples such as bread wastes 60% of the fuel, damages the body, deforests the land and pollutes the air. The VILLAGER SUN OVENS, provided through the funding campaigns of the Temple Solar Project, can bake hundreds of loaves of bread, cook all forms of food or purify water.

One of the many Micro-Sun-Bakeries provided by the Temple Solar Project in Honduras.

The Temple Solar Project facilitates the funding to purchase these large ovens, arranges a partnership with Rotary Clubs in receiving nations and manages the shipment. Receiving clubs arrange for the delivery, set up and training to put the project into effect. This solar energy cooking and baking equipment forms the nucleus of micro-bakeries, which serve the basic needs of small communities and enable women to learn enterprise and greater self-sufficiency.

To date more than 50 VILLAGER SUN OVENS will have been placed throughout the world in order to accomplish this improvement. These countries were poor to start with and have suffered due to natural disasters or war. The countries that have benefited from this project include:
Afghanistan Ghana Malawi South Africa
Angola Guatemala Namibia Swaziland
Argentina Haiti Nepal Thailand
Bolivia Honduras Nigeria Turkey
Burkina Faso India Panama Uganda
Dominican Republic Kenya Sri Lanka Zambia
Ethiopia North Korea Soma Zimbabwe

These ovens are being used to provide food for refugee camps, aids orphans, schools, hospitals and remote villages that are frequently women enterprise projects. To best view how the ovens have been successfully implemented, please visit the TSP web site at

Why Solar Ovens?
Ever since man discovered fire, he began to change the ecology of the world. The industrial age saw tremendous strides in the consumption of wood and other fossil fuels, leading to pollution on a worldwide scale and to depletion of valuable natural resources. The demands of massive population growth and the inefficient conversion of wood to charcoal have outstripped the third world's forests ability to regenerate.  The ecological effect of wood fuels is burdensome and has a far-reaching negative global impact. 

These global trends will surely lead to environmental destabilization in two major ways, deforestation and global warming. Science strongly supports the fact that deforestation for agricultural and fuel use is changing weather patterns, causing soil erosion and depleting plant and animal life. It is predicted that wide-spread suffering will occur, including forced migration, crop failures, famine, destructive weather patterns and economic mayhem. 

No one on earth will be spared from these events, but those groups with the least resources and ability to respond will suffer the most.

One-half of the world cooks with wood or charcoal fires. Fuelwood shortages make essential, daily cooking very difficult for one-fourth of humanity. As forests are eliminated, villagers have to travel great distances to find wood. This often takes half of their day or requires that they spend half of their household income for cooking fuel. Solar cooking can have an enormous impact on the everyday life of millions of people in underdeveloped countries. Smoke from cooking fires is the leading cause of infectious lung afflictions among young children leading to the death of over five million children in the third world each year. 

The benefits are to:

  •  provide a source of safe, sustainable energy
  •  prevent deforestation from creating irreparable ecological destruction
  •  provide nutritional, inexpensive food for local citizens
  •  establish self-sustaining micro-bakeries
  •  improve the quality of life
  •  aid villages with community development through micro-enterprise and economic empowerment

A well-known proverb states, Feed a starving man a fish and youve nourished him for a day. Teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. 


  • Reduced the demand on the forest
  • Reduced global warming
  • Helped curtail infectious lung afflictions
  • Created jobs
  • Provide new opportunities for communities to grow and prosper

ROTARIANS are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries. Over the next decade we will make a difference in the lives of all of mankind. Empowering the weak through micro-enterprise offers the greatest potential to alleviate poverty and enhance the quality of life for generations to come.

You can help by supporting THE TEMPLE SOLAR PROJECT. Get involved! Adopt a village! Make a difference! Contact:

Patricia Merryweather
Rotary Club of Naperville
234 DiLorenzo Drive
Naperville, Illinois 60505
United States of America

(630) 416-8693 (evenings)
(630) 202-5579 (cell)

One of the VILLAGER SUN OVENS purchased and donated by the Rotary Club of Naperville, Illinois. They, along with the other Rotary Clubs of Rotary District 6450, have started a major drive of support for solar cooking and the use of renewable resources, called The Temple Solar Project." This project has placed more than 40 Micro-Sun-Bakeries on 3 continents.





SUN OVENS were invented by a Rotarian in 1986. Since then thousands of people in more than 126 countries have benefited from these wonderful devices that cook with the power of the sun. Our objective is to bring together like-minded Rotary Clubs from around the world, committed to placing solar ovens in developing countries plagued by poverty and deforestation to save lives by preserving forests. 

Rotary projects serve as a model to the world that solar energy and micro-enterprise can be combined to create self-sustaining solutions to environmental and economic dilemmas. We have identified worthy projects around the world and are seeking to match these projects with Rotary clubs and districts that want to make a difference. We stand ready to assist in matching clubs and districts with projects. When you provide SUN OVENS to a deforested area, you are creating a sustainable international project for your club with social, economic and environmental benefits for many years to come. 


Safe - no fire risk, Easy - anyone can do it, Can even cook while your at work...

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