In 1986 the Sunseed Trust (charity No. 292511) established Sunseed Desert Technology (SDT), a small research centre based in the drylands of Spain, with the aim of developing, demonstrating and communicating accessible, low-tech methods of sustainability in a semi-arid environment.
In 1995 following an invitation from the Itili Women’s Centre in Mbeya, Tanzania, volunteers from SDT began trials there of a low-cost solar cooker constructed from adobe (mud & straw) which had been developed on the project in Spain. The trials continued over the following two years with further teams of volunteers in the Mbeya and Dodoma regions of Tanzania. These were later replaced by energy efficient mud stoves and heat retention cookers.
In 1996 Sunseed Tanzania Trust (STT) was created as a sister charity to the original Sunseed to enable work in Tanzania to continue and be led by local community needs.
Sunseed Tanzania Trust (STT), although maintaining in contact with SDT now works independently.
Sunseed Tanzania Trust (STT) now works exclusively in the Dodoma region.
Until 2003 STT relied on two experienced trustees, Mike and Bridget Bridgwater’s to conduct most of STT’s direct work in Tanzania. For the rest of the year STT’s local NGO partners continued the work. In 2004 a full-time volunteer established a small field office in Dodoma. In 2006 Dr Sheilah Meikle (Chair of Trustees and Technical Director) also started making regular working visits to the STT project and the STT team was expanded to three – a Tanzanian technical officer and two expatriate project development officers, all of whom were paid local Tanzanian salaries. In January 2008 STT cut its relationship with local NGOs and added two additional Tanzanians to its Dodoma team. All continue to be paid local Tanzanian salaries.
Domestic Energy Project
In 2000 STT and our local partners began the Domestic Energy Project, following a pilot in 1999. Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2002, and in 2003, Phase 2 was launched with financial support from the Mc Knight Foundation in America and International Tree Foundation. In 2007, with support from the Isle of Man Development Fund and other smaller donations STT launched the third phase of the DEP, it was renamed the Domestic Energy Programme.
The DEP now incorporates three elements – energy efficient stoves, agroforestry project and an industrial energy programme.
A heat retention cooker (HRC) is an insulated container (sometimes known in the UK as a Haybox or hotbox). Food is brought to the boil in a covered pot, then placed in the HRC where it continues to cook for several hours without using any more fuel. In Dodoma there are 3 types of HRC; an insulated basket, (known locally as a Wonder Basket), a hole-in-the-ground version, and a raised mud walled version.