Photo from Flickr user Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia. Creative Commons licence.
A 56 year old widow from Cameroon trains to become a barefoot solar engineer. When she has learned how to assemble and repair solar lanterns and the solar panels, batteries and circuitry for solar household systems, she will return to her community and help provide solar electricity there.
By far the majority of the rural population in Malawi uses kerosene lanterns for light. Kerosene is
- harmful to health - it can cause respiratory and eyesight problems, or accidental poisoning.
- dangerous - accidental fires resulting in burns and even death.
- expensive, increasingly so, for poor rural families where the cost can amount to 10% to 25% of income even with subsidies.
- inefficient - kerosene cost/useful light is 325 times higher than the inefficient incandescent bulb and 1,625 times higher than compact fluorescent light bulbs.
- a major source of greenhouse gases - one lamp can produce a tonne of CO2 in about ten years and there are 1 - 1.5 million of these lamps in Malawi.
SolarAid is training 120 young people in Malawi, orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS, to build and sell small solar lanterns and chargers for mobile phones or radios.
The project will provide
- better quality and less expensive lighting
- increased access to renewable types of lighting
- health and safety improvements
- reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable Energy World