Tuesday 26 February 2013

Lighting Songambele village with clean energy

LOOK! Don't stay in darkness, use solar lanterns for lighting
Communities in Songambele village will no longer stay in darkness when the sun sets! The Songambele community Maarifa centre has introduced affordable renewable green energy technologies for use at household levels. Among the new technology spreading in the village is the introduction of solar lanterns. Most communities use the chimney lanterns or the common ‘koroboi’ a wick lamp that uses kerosene. Others use torches for lighting at night forcing them to buy dry cell batteries regularly.
This kind of energy is unclean and causes indoor air pollution that has negative health effects to communities. The lighting Songambele village project aims to enable communities’ access clean energy and reduce their dependency on kerosene for lighting at night.

Demonstrating use of solar lanterns

The solar lanterns were introduced to Songambele community after demonstrations on their effectiveness were done at the Maarifa centre. During the occasion, five different solar lanterns were displayed and communities were able to select the best that they would like to use in the future. This was the first time the communities were exposed to the solar lanterns and were quite enthusiastic to start using them. The solar lanterns basically have panels for charging during the day and the energy is stored in an in-built battery.  Once fully charged, the lanterns can light for over six hours and some have capacity to charge mobile phones or to power a radio. The lanterns give bright light and are smokeless. This will go a long way in curbing pollution as well as reduce respiratory diseases and eye ailments mostly occasioned by smoke emitted by kerosene lamps.

The many benefits of clean lighting
Mr. Beterson Charles testified that he uses ¼ litre of kerosene everyday that costs Tshs.600/= for lighting his house at night. When he learnt of the new solar lanterns from the Maarifa centre, he opted to borrow and use it for two nights. When the centres’ staff visited him, he had this to say: ‘the solar lantern gives bright light and once I put it on the cupboard, I’m able to see every corner of the house. The lantern emits smokeless light and lights for over 10 hours.”
A young boy enjoys reading at night using the solar lantern

His young boy in standard 5 was able to read and do his homework comfortably without straining his eyes. Mr. Beterson was also able to charge his phone using the lantern thus saving him time and money that he would have spent at the local market. These sentiments were expressed by other community members who borrowed the lanterns from the centre including Mr. Yaredi Mkosi, Charles Mnyangalo, Valentinah Muhumba and Jossefina Senyagwa. The solar lanterns costs ranges from Tsh. 24,000/= to 125,000/= depending on the functionalities.

The Songambele maarifa centre has introduced other appropriate renewable energy technologies to communities that include: a solar-wind energy hybrid for powering the maarifa centre equipment, tubular biogas digesters for use at household level and much more. Watch this space for more updates!

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