SolarAid, an international nonprofit that provides solar lights to very remote parts of the world in order to replace kerosene lamps, has been selected as a finalist for the Zayed Future Energy Prize for the second year in a row.
Burning kerosene indoors creates hazardous air pollution, and kerosene lamps catch fire sometimes, causing horrific injuries and even deaths. Also, each lamp produces about 200 kilograms of CO2 each year, which contributes to climate change. Kerosene lamps might seem effective, but they often don't produce enough light at night for children to do their homework. Additionally, they aren't cheap for many of the families that rely on them.
So far, SolarAid has helped 10 million people in Africa get access to safe and clean solar lights. This access has helped families save about $345 million dollars and provided approximately 2 billion hours of additional study for children. 1.7 million solar lights have been sold by SolarAid since 2006.
SolarAid takes the impact of its work seriously -- about 20 research assistants work to measure it and make sure the organization's efforts and funds are being directed in effective ways. In fact, over 24,500 research interactions have been conducted to determine impact and many have occurred in the field. This is to say, in the areas where their target audiences live, they carefully research the impact of their programs.
Some of this research has been presented in the form of case studies, such as this short one: "Sauda Mataka is a mother of four from Dodoma in Tanzania. She bought a solar light from the SunnyMoney team in August 2013. Before this light, Sauda used two kerosene lamps to light her home. She now lights her home for longer each night, saves about £1.90 every week and her children study for three hours each day using the light."
If there are about 600 million people in Africa living off the grid, meaning they don't have regular access to reliable electricity, you can imagine how difficult that can makes their lives.
SolarAid started operating in 2006 and was founded by the solar power company Solarcentury. It's wonderful that this company had the goodwill to do this, and has been so effective at it.