Lights for Refugees in Rwanda

October 21, 2014

Great Lakes Energy and Global BrightLight Foundation have put together a documentary on how each one of the 3,700 households in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda were given a Sun King Pro solar lamp, and the impact that light has had on their lives. Prior to distribution, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sensitized camp residents on the importance of the solar lamp, and Great Lakes Energy trained elected community representatives how to train their neighbors on the use and care of the lamps.

Global Brightlight Foundation (GBF) was created in 2010 to provide solar lanterns to off grid families in the most rural areas of the world. Pilots were conducted in Rwanda and Patagonia, Argentina, to determine the best technology in the market and pricing. Data collected provided the foundation for the business plan GBF is currently implementing, with projects in Rwanda, Guatemala, Nepal and Peru.

GBF also recognized the need to provide solar lanterns for people living in areas of the world that would never have the means to buy them, especially UNHCR refugee camps. Working in Rwanda with Great Lakes Energy, GBF created a project to provide a Sun King solar lantern to each of the 3,700 families that live in the Kiziba camp in western Rwanda. In exchange for the lantern, each recipient was required to provide community service in the camp. This took the form of a reforestation project around the camp, in which over 20,000 trees were planted by the refugees.

The Sun King solar lanterns allow the refugee families of Kiziba to stop selling their food rations to buy kerosene and candles, thus also significantly improving nutrition for these families. Furthermore, the use of the solar lantern improves the health of the families by removing the need to burn fume-emitting kerosene and candles in the home. In the 6 months since the lanterns were distributed in the camp, teachers have reported that student performance in school is improving, there have been fewer sexual assaults of women and girls on their way to the public latrines at night, and the infirmary reports that respiratory problem visits have declined. You can watch the documentary about this work here