solar lighting research reports positive impact on life
New solar lighting research in South Africa reports significant positive impact on life in rural communities such as an enhanced sense of safety, cost savings, increased social cohesion, more school homework done and a feeling of better health and wellbeing.
The research findings released by the Independent Development Trust (IDT) in South Africa have concluded that the wide scale use of solar lighting in a rural communities offers numerous benefits. The results were announced during the South African leg of the Philips 2012 Cairo to Cape Town road show which aims to raise awareness for new healthcare and lighting innovations relevant to the continent.
The research was commissioned by Philips and was conducted by the IDT between September 2011 and July 2012. The aim of the project was to look at the longer term impact of solar lighting, (Lanterns reading lights and Home Lighting systems) both for the home and outdoor ( Area lighting) on a rural off-grid community. The community selected by the IDT is called Lomshiyo 2 located in the Nkomazi municipality of Mpumalanga province, South Africa, and consists of 71 homesteads.
The study examined five specific topics, namely what is the impact on Social cohesion, the sense of security of the households, local economic activities, the ease with which leaners undertake school work after hours, and health and wellbeing.
The study reported that there is an increasing trend towards social cohesion rising from less than 70% at the start of the study to almost 90% at the last check. This means people are either returning to their community or not leaving.
Sense of security
Security was a major issue for most members of the community. Feelings of safety rose from 22% to 51%.
The collective community of 71 households saved on the purchase of candles and paraffin. Monthly savings were estimated at 2534 ZAR per month for the entire community. In addition savings in time were realized on the road by not having to travel the 10km to buy these commodities.
School work after hours
Households who received the solar reading light reported that there has been an improvement in their children’s school work with longer hours studied and that they are now able to submit their homework on time.
Health & Wellbeing
Positive health effects have been reported with brighter light placing less strain on the eyes than Paraffin and without the fumes and smell.
A full report on the studies findings to date is available upon request by contacting Nick.Kelso@philips.com.
In a recent development Philips has installed a “light centre” in the community which provides light across a 1000m2 using the very latest in LED technology. Philips has so far invested Rand 280,000 (Euro 30,000) in the project and is interested in developing the study further to look at the effects of solar powered road and area lighting.
“Philips is funding this research to get insights into the needs of rural communities and to develop initiatives towards making lighting more accessible and affordable” says Mark Henrik Koerner General Manager for Philips lighting in Southern Africa. “Today an estimated 560 million Africans live without electricity. Darkness and a lack of power are holding entire regions back socially and economically. Philips believes that access to effective, energy efficient and sustainable solar lighting has the potential to strengthen Africa’s economic, social, educational and cultural activities in a life-enhancing way”.
For more information please follow the Cairo to Cape Town road show on: www.philips.com/africaroadshow
About the Independent Development Trust
The IDT is a South African development agency that offers program management and development advisory services for the eradication of poverty to several Government departments and other development partners in South Africa. Their emphasis is on the eradication of chronic intergenerational poverty, especially among the rural poor. For more information, visit their website.