More than one billion people around the world do not have access to electricity, as is the case in northern Kenya. When the sun sets, many families and health facilities rely on kerosene lamps as a source of light. These, however, are a major hazard, especially for young students who need to be able to study late into the night. Not only do they cause a fire hazard but they can also cause a strain on vision and respiratory problems.
The Panasonic Corporation began The Solar Lantern Project to provide a safer alternative for light in northern Kenya. The company donated more than 2,000 solar-powered lanterns to schools and clinics in the counties of Samburu and Isiolo.
The solar-powered lanterns have become a huge success in the schools of northern Kenya. They are recharged there during the day and are taken home by students at night to allow them to study and complete their homework. Students are not risking their health when they use the lamps.
Parents of students in northern Kenya can save almost two percent of their monthly expenses when their child brings home the solar-powered lanterns. In an interview conducted by Medium, a Kenyan mother stated that she “had to spend 20 shillings on kerosene every day.” Thanks to the solar-powered lanterns, she saves “around 1,000 shillings a month.”
Solar energy has become a popular alternative to electricity in many poor countries. It is accessible anywhere and an alternative source that is sustainable. According to research conducted by the International Energy Agency, “enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 90 minutes to meet the entire planet’s energy needs for a year.”
The environment also benefits from using the Panasonic solar-powered lanterns instead of kerosene lamps. The fumes that come from burning kerosene contaminate the air and only further global warming. If one million lamps are in use by the end of 2018, they are “expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30,000 tonnes between 2014 and 2018.”
Panasonic’s solar-powered lanterns may seem like a small solution, but they are allowing students to learn better and more safely outside of the classroom. The benefits of these lamps will continue to improve poverty in Kenya, slowly, but at least in the right direction.
– Mackenzie Fielder