Natural Light lamps, handheld solar powered lamps, are now bringing light and a better life to people in Zambia. The lamps are particularly crucial in Zambia as only 20 per cent of the population have access to electricity. When darkness falls, the remainder live without electric power, with their only light source being paraffin lamps, candles or bonfires. Even child-birth at night must often take place by the light of a mobile phone alone.
Globally, 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity. On the occasion of VELUX 75th anniversary the company decided to address this issue. Together with the social business Little Sun and the NGO, Plan International, they are collaborating to bring clean, reliable and affordable light to off-grid regions in Zambia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
14,500 Natural Light lamps from the VELUX Group have now arrived in Africa and the first recipients can already look forward to a better quality of life.
Among them are young girls between 10 and 18 years of age who live in a safe house in the slum area Mntendere in the Zambian capital Lusaka.
The lamps mean that the girls can do their homework when they get back from school and can feel safer at night, instead of huddling together in the dark after sunset. And it’s particularly important for our children that they feel safe – many are carrying the mental baggage such as trauma of violence, rape or drugs, says the Safe House manager, Verann Delarey.
Nurse Bertha Musonda works at a local health clinic, four hours’ drive north of Lusaka, regards the solar powered lamps as an important step forward in the work towards eradicating paraffin lamps, which are both a health risk and a fire risk.
We see so many patients here at the clinic presenting with serious burns from paraffin lamps or being poisoned by them. Sometimes the lamps have just fallen or the children have come into contact with them. We also see many burns as a result of people falling asleep whilst their lamps are still lit.
Distribution of solar powered lamps facilitated by Plan International
The NGO Plan International, having played a crucial role in the distribution of the lamps, sees great benefits for local communities coming from the project.
The solar-powered lamps will benefit entire communities where electricity is a scarce resource. In countries that have an unemployment rate of more than 60 per cent, this programme makes a big difference in the lives of the people involved. They are given a chance to support themselves, says Gwen Wisti, Managing Director of Plan International Denmark.