Brilliant sunshine drenches the dry flatlands of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula for most of the year. It is a mixed blessing for the region's women, who must endure the steaming tropical heat to gather firewood, fetch water and prepare food over hot flames.

 

But now they have started to harness the power of the sun through small solar cookers. The low, steady heat produces no fumes and even cooks food unattended throughout the
day. Even better, the women are
freed from the thick, toxic smoke that causes so much disease and death, and enabled to lead more productive lives.

'Look at me. I'm 60 and it's as if I were 15. Not even a cough,' smiles Bertila Romero. 'I used to spend all my time at home. Now I can do other things. It's been a total change in my life.'

 
  photo: ClearDome Solar Thermal   photo: P. Domingu/UNEP/Topham  
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