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KCB Bank lights up Namuwongo slum

Most people in Uganda, especially in the rural areas, use tadooba (wicker candle) for light because they can’t afford power and other forms of energy.

Yet this mode of light is often the major cause of fires in homes. But this could soon end, thanks to an intervention by KCB Bank and Village Energy, a solar power company. The two organizations have partnered to distribute over 10,000 solar lamps to disadvantaged school children and homesteads.

Dubbed One Lamp per Child, the programme was launched last week at St. Bernabas primary school in Namuwongo, Kampala, where parents and pupils from the nearby Namuwongo slum gathered to receive the lamps known as ‘freedom lights’.

“Our main aim is to empower disadvantaged school children by providing them with safe and affordable light,” Village Energy director, Abu Musuza, told guests.
“We want them to favorably compete with children from urban areas and good homesteads.”

The battery can last over eight hours and if the children use two hours to revise, they could pass the lamps over to their parents for other use. Hope for Children, a Namuwongo-based NGO helped in identifying the first 80 beneficiaries. The NGO’s officials took guests on a guided tour of the inner city community famed for high crime rate, immorality and hopelessness.

“Now my daughter won’t need to go to the well-lit Muyenga streets to do her homework,” an excited Florence Dijaro said as she received her lamp.
“I hope my husband does not sell it so as to get money to buy alcohol,” added the 17-year old mother of two.

Located a stone-throw away from the lavish Muyenga Hill, Namuwongo is the second largest slum in Uganda and one of the areas with the lowest standards of living in East Africa.

“This project will run for a full year across the country. In Kampala, we are targeting slums where education is still budding,” KCB’s managing director, Albert Odongo, explained.

His bank is providing the $20, 000 (Shs50m) needed for the project. Already, over 3,000 freedom lights have been distributed in Northern Uganda under a different project.
One Lamp per Child will next go to Bududa district and later to the west, officials said.

A recent research showed that close to 80% of households in Uganda still rely on candles and traditional lamps, spending an average of 20% of their meager monthly incomes on kerosene.

pkamukama@observer.ug

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