The Community Cooker aims to address sanitation, health and environmental issues associated with the growing mounds of rubbish in informal settlements, refugee camps and boarding schools. It aims at responding to increased needs and numerous problems facing residents of informal settlements. The lack of adequate disposal facilities of rubbish by local authorities, poverty, deforestation and advancement of women in informal settlements has tragically been ignored.
Jim Archer, the inventor of the Community Cooker, started in the early 1990s to seek a sustainable solution to the ever increasing mounds of rubbish which would not only provide income for the residents in informal settlements but would also provide an alternative source of energy for cooking meals to reduce dependency on kerosene, charcoal, fuel wood and gas. Rubbish would now be seen as a commercial asset that can transform a community positively. Jim began to develop designs for a very simple, inexpensive rubbish burner which could also serve as a stove for cooking. Once the preliminary design was complete, Jim received start up funding of $10, 000 from United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Kenya through Henry Ndede, an additional sum from Jim’s architectural firm Planning Systems Services Ltd and Kenyan paint manufacturer Basco Paints to research, develop, and then construct the prototype model of the Community Cooker in one of Africa’s largest slums Kibera. In 2008, Mumo Musuva with Amos Wachira completed the first prototype.
Following careful research through the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, it has been determined that 63% of people in Kenya use solid fuels for cooking, which is the 6th lowest for sub-Saharan Africa. 21,713,000 people are affected by household air pollution annually, and there are 14,300 deaths from household air pollution per year including 12,500 child deaths. Awareness of acute respiratory infections (ARI) is low. Only 46% of children with ARI symptoms are taken to a health centre, yet they are the second biggest cause of death. 26% of all deaths reported in hospitals are attributed to ARI and 8% of children under five show symptoms of ARI at any given time.
The Community Cooker is a simple machine and can be built almost anywhere. The Cooker itself is made of welded steel insulated with fire bricks. The top of the Cooker consists of a metal plate, and serves as the cooking surface. The Cooker has two ovens for baking located underneath the metal plate. A chimney carries the smoke from the combustion chamber to the chimney’s outlet high above the neighbourhood’s roofline.
Because the stove burns rubbish at over 800 degrees Celsius, it achieves 99 percent combustion producing smoke that is almost transparent or white in colour and almost odourless. At the top of the chute rubbish is
manually shoveled off the third stage sorting rack where it slides down to the combustion chamber of the stove. Dry, sorted rubbish is manually fed by the stove operators. The Community Cooker is deliberately designed to be labour intensive and to use locally available materials so that repairs, maintenance and operation can easily be carried out by members of the local Community.
Very simple to build.
Very simple to operate.
Very simple to repair.
So simple that semi skilled (Jua Kali)artisans can build them and maintain them. (Otherwise Community Cookers would quickly breakdown and join the heaps of rusting junk in low income areas).
About 91 250 tonnes of charcoal biomass are used for energy every year in Kenya . Contributing to this are several ‘temporary’ displaced persons camps, which permanently shelter well over 110 000 people each. Women and children in these camps travel further and further every day to find wood and fuel for cooking, denuding the countryside for miles around and creating health problems for themselves from the smoke of the firewood.
Recent research findings show that black carbon (BC), the black soot resulting from the incomplete combustion of burning fossil fuels contribute to warming the planet 55 percent as much as CO2, and that reducing black carbon emissions may be the quickest, cheapest way to save the climate (see  Black Carbon Warms the Planet Second Only to CO2, SiS 44). Community cookers will contribute a great deal to reducing BC emissions, and hence earn carbon credits if BC reduction is included in the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.
 according to Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development
 Ho MW. Black Carbon warms the planet second only to CO2, Science in Society 44 (in press)
Description: The Community Cooker is a waste to energy technology.
Category: health & sanitation
Design: By Jim Archer,inventor of the Community Cooker
Consultants: Community Cooker Foundation
Building status: in use
Construction period: 3 months
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Coordinates: 1°15'37.8'' S, 36°48'6.3'' E
Tags: energy, community practice, slum, empowerment
Project ID: 253
Published: 25 May 2012
Last updated: 19 September 2012
(images have individual licenses)