From day one, Sphere Solar Energy has been dedicated to using the power of solar technology to benefit marginalized communities. That means those who don’t have reliable access to electricity, or who can benefit from increased resilience from storms and droughts brought on by climate change. Our Founder and Owner, Edwin Wanji, has pledged to provide pro bono services for at least one such project each year.
One of our first projects in this vein was a project to use solar technology to benefit a Maasai community in Kenya. Not only did this project provide light and charging capabilities for the 200-person town, but it eliminated harmful kerosene burning and saved community members money on the cost of device charging and fuel costs.
Read on to learn more about this project and our plans for a new one in the coming months!
The problem: Costly and harmful energy sources put community members at risk
Solar technology enabled Sphere Solar Energy to provide a better energy source for two key needs: lighting and device charging.
Kerosene has been used for lighting in off-grid villages like this one for over a century, and the toll to human life is astonishing: global pollution leads to 9 million additional deaths each year, with the most important cause being acute air pollution like that caused by kerosene (about 4.3 million of these are due to indoor air pollution alone). While some members of the village had access to a handful of small, portable solar lamps, kerosene was still used because those lamps would often break or lose their charge. The new system lights up the whole house after dark, providing brighter light that children can use for studying and adults can use for their everyday needs.
The second major impact to the village life is the ability of the solar panels to charge small electronic devices like smartphones. Phones have become indispensable in many off-grid rural communities, because they provide a way of communicating across long distances, accessing information from around the globe, and paying or charging for goods and services.
Before Sphere Solar installed the new panels, people from the village had to travel 2 miles to the nearest major town to charge their devices, and at not-insignificant expense.
Now, community members can charge their devices for free on a daily basis, and are even starting their own charging businesses at a lower cost for other nearby communities.
In the end, this project has created a significant impact in the community, making life easier and empowering its youth with greater access to knowledge. To see the technology in action, check out this video that a friend of the organization put together!
What’s Next: Solar Water Pumps for a Maasai School
Light and electricity can be life-changing in contexts where those resources are scarce, but the potential of solar is far greater. We believe that it can power all of our utilities, from our households to our water supplies, and that’s why we’re taking on a new challenge this year: building a solar-powered water pump to bring clean, sanitary water to over 1,200 Maasai schoolchildren.
This project is on another level from last year, and we’ll need your help – read more in our latest blog post and learn how you can get involved!