Shedding Light in the Night: How Solar Energy and Mobile Charging Improves Quality of Life in India

In this installment of Digital Diversity, Gwen Kidera – Project Associate at S3IDF (Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund) – explains how their non-profit organisation provides underserved communities with Integrated Energy Centre carts (IECs) equipped with reliable solar powered lamps and mobile charging stations. Access to light and mobile technology improves the quality of life in these communities by allowing them to continue working after dark.Digital Diversity is a series of blog posts from kiwanja.net featuring the many ways mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. This article was curated by Gabrielle LePore, our Media and Research Assistant. You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter at @GabrielleLePore and kiwanja.net at @kiwanjaBy Gwen KideraSolar lights switch on in the tents of nomadic North Indian residents as the sun sets over the Thanisandra slum in Bangalore, India. Men pick up their tools to carve drums, which serve as the community’s primary source of livelihood, and women crouch to cook supper as the smell of firewood permeates the thick night air.Wahida, a resident in the camp, returns from the community-owned cart with a rented and freshly charged solar lamp. She hangs it in the centre of her tent above the heads of her six children and her husband who busily works on the ornate drum on his lap. She relaxes because the light allows her husband to work into the night carving drums that are sold to earn additional income, and her children keep safe from pests that would otherwise creep into the poorly lit area. Reliable and safe lighting was a luxury beyond the reach of most residents before the community-owned and operated Integrated Energy Centre (IEC) arrived.In March 2013, SELCO Solar Pvt. Ltd. (SELCO India), an organisation whose mission is to improve the quality of life in underdeveloped communities through sustainable methods, worked with S3IDF to establish a waterproof and durable solar-powered IEC cart to provide lamps and mobile charging to 30 of approximately 80 households in Thanisandra. The nomadic community, which has been moving as a unit across the country for generations, can take the cart with them wherever they go, ensuring many years of reliable lighting. Once they pay off the initial capital costs of the cart, they can own it and lend the lamps to community members without cost.Before the IEC, families spent a large portion of their earnings on black market kerosene which posed health hazards such as increased risk of burns and the release of unhealthy fumes. Now, families spend less than US$2.50 a month for up to eight hours of solar light each evening. In addition to the cart, SELCO India and S3IDF are exploring ways to connect the community’s drum production to viable markets, thereby increasing residents’ incomes.The centre in Thanisandra is just one of 18 IECs under development across the state of Karnataka. Each centre is created based on a needs assessment and tailored to meet the community’s specific circumstances. Although the centres vary in services and business models, at heart they are all solar-powered community centres that provide the underserved with resources to which they otherwise would not have.IECs are built within communities which are off the grid and lack access to electricity. They not only provide much needed energy but they also have the ability to supply useful products, such as solar lanterns, small appliances and tools, mobile charging, larger productive-use technologies – grain mixers and grinders – community TVs, cooling/heating systems, as well as resources for education, health, awareness and livelihood training.IECs offer educational services including audio-visual aids to books, and computers to DVD players, and other basic literacy programs. The IECs can also improve public health by providing solar charging points for ultrasound devices, vaccine boxes and refrigeration for medicines. Other resources include ticket booking and printing, Internet services for obtaining identity cards and sending bill payments, and access to agricultural and trade-related information. As if that weren’t enough, IECS also offer community members the opportunity to enroll in vocational training programs, including classes on computers, sewing and fruit drying.The people who benefit from the IECs run them, and they are designed to be operationally sustainable with revenue generated by the IECs covering all maintenance and operating costs.The implementation of the IEC cart in Thanisandra improved the quality of life of the entire community. “Now we can easily make 20-30 more drums after dark, and I can even finish my quilting without letting my housework suffer”, Wahida explains. “It feels different since it’s the first time we have had the luxury to work like this.”Wahida is hopeful for her future and that of her family and community. She would like to see an increase in demand for their drums, which could become a reality with SELCO India and S3IDF’s help.When asked how the solar lights have changed her circumstances, she smiled and proudly stated, “With the light, even our tent starts looking like a palace, it makes us feel like our dreams can come true.”Gwen began exploring the field of social entrepreneurship in 2009 while in South Africa on a field study program through the Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern University. She assisted in giving business development support to local entrepreneurs from the townships around Cape Town over the course of two trips. She went on to study microfinance in Belize and work with a group of students to determine the effectiveness of a microfinance institute’s training programs and causes of default among Haitian borrowers in the Dominican Republic. She spent a summer working for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and in 2011 worked in Meru, Kenya for the Miriam Kanana Mubichi Foundation where she taught health and art classes, advised a women’s textile company, researched malnutrition at the local hospital, and arranged school feeding programs.In 2013, Gwen became a Project Associate at the S3IDF, a nonprofit organisation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Members of the organisation work to reduce poverty in developing countries by supporting small scale enterprises that meet basic infrastructure needs and providing opportunities for economic advancement. She is an avid traveler and enjoys documenting her trips and getting to know the local culture through photography and blogging.This post originally appeared at Newswatch. Digital Diversity is produced by Ken Banks, innovator, mentor, anthropologist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Founder of kiwanja.net, FrontlineSMS and Means of Exchange. He shares exciting stories in Digital Diversity about how mobile phones and appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. You can follow him on Twitter @kiwanja

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How to Choose Professional Outdoor Solar Lights?
The introduction of outdoor solar lightsAn outdoor solar light is a form of solar energy that uses sunlight to produce electricity. This type of light can be used to provide heat for lighting purposes, such as in street lamps. It can also be used to heat buildings and reduce heating costs. An outdoor solar light can also be used to produce electricity by supplying heat to the air and water. Outdoor solar lights can also be used to create an atmosphere around a house or other object, such as a wall. It can also be used to create a ground effect around a house, which can help reduce the need for electrical energy.Most outdoor solar lights are powered by solar power. Most outdoor solar lights use batteries and have built-in battery bank that provides up to 50% of the energy required by the sun. They can be easily turned on and off in a very short time. The best outdoor solar lights are designed to provide enough power to make your home run longer and get more light into your room. You can choose from several styles of outdoor solar lights and you can save money on electricity bills by buying a different style of outdoor solar lights. If you want to save money on electricity bills then outdoor solar lights are the way to go.With so many products out there, the most important thing to consider is what kind of lighting you want. Some people may not know that there are many types of outdoor solar lights and some people do not know what type of outdoor solar lights to choose from. A good way to find out is to go online and check out some reviews online. It is best to make sure that you read all the reviews before you decide on the type of outdoor solar lights you want to use. Make sure that you have the right kind of outdoor solar lights and then get some recommendations from friends and family.The manufacturing process of outdoor solar lightsMost outdoor solar lights can be purchased in India and it is possible to get a better price than you would think. However, there are some things that you should do before you start using outdoor solar lights. They can help you make sure that you get the best deal possible on your purchase. Outdoor solar lights are very lightweight and they don't need any special technology to light up your property. You can also choose to have them installed in your garden or even outside your house.Led solar lights are used to create heat and light up the air and water in the surrounding environment. When they are installed correctly, they will have a high efficiency of about 2,000 W. This is because they use a large amount of energy. A small amount of energy can be used to make lighting lamps that work much more efficiently. The only requirement is that the sun's rays be blocked by the poles, so that they don't pass through the poles and into the wind. Solar lights also provide some form of power to a household or utility.In order to produce lights that will last a long time, it is necessary to use an appropriate battery and proper tools. A good battery can last up to 2 years and should be able to handle heavy usage. However, if you are using a bad battery then it is very important to make sure that you have enough batteries for your needs. Outdoor solar lights are designed to work with any type of light and they need to be properly maintained. It is very important to check that the battery is not leaking or short circuiting.All outdoor solar lights are assembled in the same factory and installed in a small area. All outdoor solar lights have been designed to be placed in place on the ground, which means that they can be attached to the ceiling or other places on the house. This is one of the reasons why outdoor solar lights are so popular. These outdoor solar lights are generally cheaper than ordinary solar lights and also provide much better energy efficiency than regular solar lights. If you want to install outdoor solar lights then there are some things you can do.The advantages of outdoor solar lightsThere are many types of solar lights, from direct solar to LED solar lights. It is always a good idea to make sure that you select the best one for your needs. They can be either large or small, so make sure that you choose the best one for your needs. They can be small and lightweight, so make sure that you use them correctly. Also make sure that you have enough space for your garden or patio so that you can situate your garden or patio.If you want to reduce your heating bills and install solar lights in your home then it is important to choose the right one for your needs. Most of the time, people are unaware of the benefits of outdoor solar lights and if you have not chosen the right one then it is best to get some advice from experts and do some research on the internet. Outdoor solar lights are very much appreciated by people because they have many uses. This article will show you some of the most common ways to use outdoor solar lights.Most of the world's cities are still small and few people are aware of the technology that is being used in our everyday lives. The problems that exist in many countries today are difficult to solve. People have long since stopped using them because of health concerns. Some people even use them as lighting lamps to decorate their homes. These light bulbs have some disadvantages, but they can be adjusted to fit your home.They have become more and more popular in the last few years.There are several types of outdoor solar lights that you can choose from. These are mainly made of glass, which is used in many different lighting applications. The reason why they are called outdoor solar lights is because they use an integrated circuit and thus have low power consumption. This makes them ideal for people who want to enjoy their outdoor activities without having to spend a lot of money on electricity. They also make it possible to save a lot of money by buying the right type of solar lights. Outdoor solar lights can also help you to take care of your home.How to use outdoor solar lights?The main purpose of outdoor solar lights is to keep the temperature in your garden safe and dry. It is an energy efficient solution that can save you money on electricity bills and it also helps to protect your home from heat stress. You can choose from three different types of solar lights. They are called solar street lights and solar post lights. These are usually used by homeowners who want to make their home look neat and clean. Solar post lights are small and lightweight and they can be easily attached to any light or power source.Some of the most popular outdoor solar lights that we have in the market are those that are inexpensive and simple to install. These solar lights can be found at your local hardware store, yard or garage and they can also be found at any other location in the world. You can find these solar lights at many places around the world. The best way to use them is to get some local knowledge about them and learn about their uses. If you have an interest in learning about these solar lights then get some training on them.A solar light is an optical device that uses a radiation absorbing material to make it appear as if it is attached to the surface of the object. It can be used to create a street light, turn off lights in an emergency or just illuminate a person's face. They can also be used to control lighting and have security systems installed to protect people from power surges. Outdoor solar lights can also be used to decorate buildings and vehicles, so they can provide privacy for people who may have some personal needs.Most outdoor solar lights can be set on a deck or patio, but they are also pretty powerful. A small group of people with some serious skill in outdoor solar lights will need to get out of their driveway and into the sunshine. This means they need to have enough power to go about their daily lives without needing to recharge their batteries. It is not always easy to find the right size for their needs and then find the right spot to put them in. They will need to know how to get into the house, so they need to have some safety measures in place.
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