Solar cookers have been tested and studied in various settings, but despite their envisioned benefits – reduction of deforestation, economic benefits, improved health, and empowerment of women – results have been modest at best. This article performs a critical review of the literature on solar cooking (SC), to scrutinise the assumptions and methodological choices that may explain this conundrum. The literature review yielded 32 articles on solar cookers in Sub-Saharan Africa, where most SC projects can be found. Four recurrent types of issues stand out: local needs are often not sufficiently considered, existing cooking and fuelwood practices are seen as obstacles, many articles show a prosolution bias and there is a lack of methodologically sound impact studies. To overcome these issues, practice theory – which analyses the practice of cooking from the logic of the practice, rather than from an external point of view – is proposed to guide and focus future SC projects and studies. Furthermore, ethnographical methods can provide new and grounded evidence and allow for a stronger focus on local needs. These approaches can provide a fruitful evidence base to analyse the role of solar-cooking in achieving sustainable and long-term development benefits in the Global South.
- solar cooking