Families to get one million free solar lights

Some of the Right2Light beneficiaries

Some of the Right2Light beneficiaries

At least one million solar lights will be distributed free of charge to local communities and refugee settlements around the country by the end of 2021, Frank Mpanga, the country representative of campaign group, Right2Light Uganda has said.

Right2Light Uganda is a campaign, which aims to raise awareness and educate children globally about solar energy. About 10,000 solar lights have been distributed to local communities and refugee settlements in the western districts of Hoima, Isingiro, Kabarole and the West Nile district of Yumbe free of charge.

Speaking to journalists recently in Nakivale camp in Isingiro district, Mpanga said, “Many beneficiary families have reported that the solar lights are predominantly used by children to do their homework after dark. With access to this bright, safe, clean and free light, children are doing extra hours of homework each day.”

Access to reliable and affordable electricity is critical to achieving the universally adopted sustainable goals (SDGs). In the education sector, access to electricity extends study hours through access to lighting in the dark.

However, despite the importance of energy access, power is still unavailable or unreliable in many rural communities in Uganda including refugee communities.

Mike Zizinga, 10, a refugee student in Nakivale refugee settlement and a beneficiary of Right2Light couldn’t hide his excitement.

“I can now read and revise for my exams at night after helping my mother with housework. The light is very bright and works better than the candle I used to use before; so, I no longer have itchy eyes or cough because of the smoke,” he said.

School teachers at the beneficiary Hope Schools and Training Centre in Isingiro district have reported improvement in performance, attendance, concentration and motivation of their pupils as a result of the solar lights.

Over 600,000 school going children currently hosted in refugee camps around the country have no access to electricity.

The only available option to survive the dark is through the use of local open flame kerosene lamps commonly known as tadooba.

This not only exposes them to health risks such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses resulting from indoor air pollution, but also leaves them vulnerable to rampant house fire accidents where many children have lost their lives.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd