The following is a short report from Alex Burrough, Operations Director of SunnyMoney Zambia.
As I travel back from to Lusaka from Zambia’s Northern Province, I reflect back on what I have learnt over the past week. Northern Province is vast, over two days travel from SunnyMoney’s office in Lusaka, and most people there do not have access to electricity. What does this mean? It means that, everyday, people are using candles just for some evening light. That’s not right. Changing this reality is why I do what I do. It’s what motivates our teams, as pico-solar lights can change that reality.
I’ve been travelling for over a week and visited five towns meeting solar agents that SunnyMoney has trained to sell solar lights, enabling them to have another form of regular income.
At SunnyMoney, we place a huge importance on our work with rural communities whose lives are massively affected by lack of access to light and electricity.
We often forget that the same problem still plagues urban areas like Lusaka. The same need, for access to clean, safe, renewable light still exists in cities as much as it does in the countryside. As I travel home, this need was highlighted in the worst possible way by the news that a baby had died in Ng’ombe compound while I was away.
On 7th September, an 18 year old mother left a candle burning while she popped out to the market and the mosquito net her baby was sleeping under caught fire. The baby, Eneless Kasala, was only two weeks old. It’s 2017. No one should have to burn a candle for lighting and run the risk of such a tragedy. It’s heartbreaking.
If you live in a compound in Lusaka (about 4.9 million do) it’s likely that your only affordable lighting option is candles, which cost roughly $0.15 cents. We all know candles – but how many of us would choose to use them as their main form of lighting? They don’t emit light you can read by. Too many people have little choice but to use them and that means too many people are forced to run the risk of tragedy.
This tragedy reminds us at SunnyMoney that it’s not just in rural areas where people are at risk. The risk is real and its right here in Lusaka too.
We’ll continue our work to educate people about the risk of candles and kerosene and paraffin fires and how small solar lights can eradicate that risk – for good.
My hope and belief is that every single one of the 212,607 solar lights we have distributed In Zambia is helping prevent a tragedy.