As you are turning on the bedside light and are about to read a story to your children, tell them that in many parts of the world, millions and millions of children their age live with no electricity and with no electric light. Tell your children that most of these children spend the evening with the dim light of an open fire, a candle, a kerosene lamp or a flashlight. Tell your children that because of the very poor lighting, these children are really not able to do any school work or read a book at night.
It is estimated that 1.3 billion people worldwide have no direct access to electricity and no electric light. Instead, they resort to candles, kerosene lamps, or flashlights. Kerosene generates noxious fumes that are harmful to health. Indoor pollution from the fumes can cause many respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis and the accidental ingestion of kerosene can lead to poisoning and even death. Candles and kerosene lamps are also prone to causing dangerous body burns and triggering house fires that, in crowded areas, can devastate entire communities. In addition, candles and kerosene lamps give light that is very dim, only one hundredth to one tenth of the standards recommended to accommodate many tasks and to allow for reading.
Tell your children that there is now realistic hope that this situation can be addressed effectively as, fortunately, a number of good technical solutions have been developed in the last few years. Tell them that light emitting diodes, or LEDs, are becoming available in most regions of the world.
Many organizations, private foundations, not-for-profit and for profit companies are working in earnest to install solar PV + LED lighting systems and provide technical training in communities which do not have access to power from the grid.
Tell your children that for the price of a pair of sneakers, a solar lantern can be purchased and provided to a family in many parts of the world, giving the children enough light to read, helping them with their schooling. Tell your children that for the price of a laptop computer, a low power PV + LED lighting system can be installed to provide light, greater opportunities for communication and comfort to a whole household.
Tell your children that your family can help a family far away by supporting organizations that will bring them light, and a better life.
This post was written by Jean-Claude Fouere who sits on the Board of Directors of Light Up The World (LUTW).
Light Up The World (LUTW) is a Canadian non-profit organization focused on providing sustainable energy and lighting to communities as a catalyst for sustainable development. Working in some of the most remote and undeserved areas in the world, LUTW provides technical training and builds the capacity of local service providers to transition away from unhealthy fuels and disposable batteries for energy and light. LUTW has worked with over 220 partner organizations to bring solar power to communities in 54 countries. Visit www.lutw.org to learn more.