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[Opinion] Combat Poverty With The Sun
Solar power can provide electricity, and a way out of poverty
Lim Kong Soon (wordscods)     Print Article 
Published 2009-12-25 01:48 (KST)   
Global poverty and climate change are the most pressing issues of our lifetime -- impacting over 900 million people in Africa.
Replacing existing kerosene lamp with solar lanterns could reduce carbon emission up to one tonne over three years
©2009 Andy Bodycombe/ SolarAid

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sk arrives, 1.6 billion people are living in darkness. These rural communities rely on expensive, yet toxic kerosene, wood and charcoal for light and heat. Rural clinics, schools and community centers across Africa have no access to electricity.

The plight of many Africans is never ending, but theirs is a global issue that revolves all nations.

Hilda Longwe, a widow with three children living in Malawi, struck extreme misfortune when a kerosene lamp, known as koloboyi, exploded and burned her home into ashes.

She earns barely enough, and this tragedy crumbled her trading business.

Although kerosene lamps are unreliable and dangerous, it is the only resource for rural communities to light the darkness. Nevertheless, a ray of hope appeared for Ms. Longwe when she ventured into microsolar business through SolarAid, an independent charity organization that promotes the use of solar energy.

Climate change and poverty are closely linked; they can be fought together through solar power. In one hour, the sun provides energy sufficient for 27 years of global consumption. Rural communities benefit from solar power as it not only provides lighting but also electricity to pump water and power homes and farms.
1.6 billion people live in darkness as dusk arrives
©2009 SolarAid

In response to this, SolarAid believes that through solar power, education, and income the health of rural communities can be improve significantly. Materials used in the production of solar products are sourced locally to create supply and demand, boosting local economy and promote employment to create sustainability.

Based on SolarAid's research, an average rural household in Africa spends 20% of its monthly income on kerosene for lighting and batteries for radio communication. SolarAid micro-solar franchise is a network of solar entrepreneurs that produce and sell small scales solar products using only 0.6W to 1.8W of electricity. These products ranges from solar lanterns to chargers that are used for radios, mobile phones and lamps.

Using solar power can also make access to education easy. Solar panels are installed in the Tara Basic School and Kalonda Basic School in Zambia. The classrooms lit by solar power allow students to study in the evening. Clinics, schools and community centers could all benefit from these capabilities.

쏶olarAid's vision is a world where everyone has access to clean, renewable power; in particular the rural poor communities of Sub-Saharan Africa and South America, Anna Wells, marketing manager of the organization, said.

She added that SolarAid enables sustainable economic development through its micro-enterprise model, giving people tools to lift themselves out of poverty.

쏝y replacing carbon-emitting technologies, solar power has a mitigating effect on global warming, she added. In an email, Anna mentioned that one ton less carbon is emitted over three years by replacing an average kerosene lamp.

SolarAid's mission is to reach 1.5 million people with solar power in the next five years.
Article will be published on my blog...
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Lim Kong Soon

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