Health, Nutrition, Integrated Cooking

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Food supply often represents the largest component of aid to stressed populations in post-disaster, post-conflict and generally impoverished situations. It is therefore important that it is properly usable. One crucial aspect of this is through the provision of sustainable innovation and technology for food preparation through integrated cooking mechanisms, which can be comprised of necessary combinations of solar energy, combustion stoves and retained heat.

In most areas, fuel is scarce (as can be seen in Haiti, Afghanistan and many refugee camps). Solar cooking sometimes can help, but sunlight is not always available. As a result, integrated cooking – a combination of solar ovens, high-efficiency stoves and retained heat baskets containing stones or bricks, can significantly (up to 75-90%) reduce fuel use compared to open-pit fires. If properly tied to other infrastructures, the heat used for cooking could sterilize water, and use of hot stones or bricks for heating could reduce public health risks from smoke inhalation from open fires, especially in shelters. Lowered fuel demand could mitigate deforestation, give people more time for non-fuel-gathering activities, and reduce security risks to gatherers.


Which technology and energy source(s) are compatible with an emergency environment can best be determined by evaluating all contextual variables. Towards ensuring the most effective provision of power resources and innovation in post-disaster, post-conflict and impoverished conditions, STAR-TIDES is working to provide a useful database of information for inexpensive, sustainable infrastructure that can be supplied to emergency situations and development scenarios with minimal transportation costs.

The Sphere Project is a good resource that offers common standards used by the international community when providing support to disaster victims, refugees, and other displaced populations. Nutrition is considered to be a “basic requirement” for sustaining the lives and dignity of stressed populations. Sphere provides detailed standards for minimal nutritional support within the humanitarian relief and assistance arena. TIDES highly recommends that those involved in such operations become familiar with the Sphere Standards available at the above link.


Other helpful collections of integrated cooking solutions include:

Solar Cooking Archive Wiki
UNHCR, Cooking Options in Refugee Situations
Types of Solar Cooking
Center for Development of Solar Energy
Hedon Household Energy Network
Haybox, Retained heat cooking Information Source


Each link will lead you to a new page that lists lighting solutions under these broad categories. (Note: TIDES does not endorse any specific products or stores, nor are we responsible for the content on the links.)

Equipment Providers

  • Solar
  • Combustion
  • Retained Heat
  • Consulting Services/How-to
  • Camp-stoves/ Other

Technical Considerations and planning factors common to integrated cooking solutions are:


  • Panel
  • Box
  • Parabolic
  • Hybrid (solar/electric)
  • Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Glass and Metal
  • Low ($10 - $50)
  • High (>$50)
    • Low (<2 kg)
    • Medium (>2 kg-10kg)
    • High (>10 kg)
Cooking Temp
      • Low (<140 C) (panel cooker)
      • Medium (140C-180C) (box cooker)
      • High (>250C) (parabolic cooker
      • One Small pot (<2 liters)
      • Two small pots (<2 liters)
      • Single Medium pot (>2 liters)
      • Two medium pots (>2 liters)
      • Large (> 6 liters)

Notes: For detailed information on all types of solar cookers go to the solar cooking archive.


A detailed USAID study provides the most recent evaluation of fuel-efficient stoves. The non-profit ETHOS also provides information and assessments on various fuel-efficient stoves available on the market and for local manufacture.

Retained heat:

There are currently no standards or published assessments on retained heat cookers, which can be made by stuffing a container with any insulating material (straw, grass, cloth) to surround a cooking pot with at least 10 cm of insulation on all sides. Approximate cooking times for simmering over a heat source and then sealing in a retained heat cooker are as follows:

White Rice 5 min 1-2 hours
Brown Rice 10-15 min 2 hours
Potatoes (whole white) 5-10 min 1-2 hours
Creamed Soups 2 min 1 hour
Dried Beans (soaked) 10-15 min 3-4 hours
Meat Roast 20-30 min 3-5 hours



Solar Cookers International
Sun BD Corporation (Solar/electric hybrid)
Sun Ovens International, Inc.
Solar Oven Society
Solar Sizzler
ClearDome Solar Thermal LLC
Seth Jones
Rainbow Power Company, Ltd.
Sunfire Solutions
SUNSTOVE Solar Cookers
Small Power Systems
Solar Household Energy, Inc.


Rocket Stove
Wood/Gas Campstove
Sunfire Solutions
Thermette North America, Inc.
Kelly Kettles


The Solar Cooking Archive
Sunfire Solutions


Solar Cookers International
Rocket Stove



Earthen Solar Cookers

The Earthen Solar Cooker is a low cost and low environmental impact design envisioned by Bart Orlando [1] for use by the poor in refugee camps and in villages of non-industrialized nations. The design is simple; a large parabolicly shaped hole in the ground lined with reflective materials such as salvaged pieces of broken glass mirror or reflective can lids.


Stove Tech- Deluxe Wood or Charcoal Metal Lined 2 Door Stove

In addition to the great features of the Eco Ceramic 2 Door, the Deluxe unit has a refectory metal liner in the chimney and fire chamber as well as an upper fuel door brick cover. This is our best selling unit offering the most features and versatility for your money. All two door stoves include a galvanized pot skirt, fuel feed grate and a secondary internal grate for charcoal use. Stove measures 11 x 12 1/2 @ 27 lbs.


Biolite Campstove

No fuel to buy or carry: Our stoves cook your meals with nothing but the twigs you collect on your journey, eliminating the need for heavy, expensive, polluting petroleum gas. Quick to light, fast to boil and easy to use.

Charge your gadgets: By converting heat from the fire into usable electricity, our stoves will recharge your phones, lights and other gadgets while you cook dinner.


Institutional Stove Solutions- 60 & 100 Liter Cookstove

highly efficient, multi-application, institutional cookstoves. Our stoves use 75 to 90 percent less fuel compared to an open fire. They are also clean-burning (reducing emissions by 90 percent) safe (cool enough to touch while in operation), portable, durable, and cost-effective. Our stoves operate on tiny amounts of biomass which can include wood or our sustainable biomass briquettes. Two or three kilograms of such fuel is enough to cook a full pot of food.


Babington Technologies- Mobile Kitchen Trailer

designed to  support the first responder's primary mission – reacting quickly to contingency  disasters. Food cooked and served rapidly to the needy and hungry is  morale-boosting and a key logistical component of any first response.

Rapidly deployable. Our free-standing mobile kitchen is ready for C-130 transport, built to be pulled by a standard heavy-duty pickup, and designed for  fast setup and shutdown.