Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solar lamps as an empowering tool

Evans Wadongo ruined his eyes due to kerosene smoke. The kerosene was needed in his Kenyan boyhood home to provide light and heat. Evans would huddle next to the lamp to complete his school homework. The damage to his eyes didn't stand in the way of Evans finding a solution to avoid the same plight for others. Evans has started a non-profit that gives the solar lamps to Kenyan villagers.

From this AFP story that we found at Yahoo, we find out how Evans Wadongo provides more than light for Kenyan villagers. Evans was also profiled at CNN Heroes.

Some 15,000 lamps have been turned out since production started in 2004, and Wadongo says his goal is to hit 100,000 by 2015.

"I started in the village where I grew up and I saw kids going from primary into high school," he told AFP.

He has no time for Kenya's political class, accusing them of "wanting people to remain poor so that they can stay in power".

For Wadongo, the lamps are not an end in themselves, but rather "a way to lift people out of poverty."

He and his team from the "Use Solar, Save Lives" project start by identifying impoverished communities that rely for lighting on kerosene lamps -- when they can afford the fuel. They hand out 30 lamps to a community association, often a women's group, and encourage the locality to pool the money each family has saved by no longer buying kerosene.

When the fund accumulates the group can use it for a project, such as fish farming or rabbit breeding.

Nomadic communities get a special model of lamp for easier transport.

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