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Sunrise Kat

Ray of Sunshine: Margret and her solar light

Today’s Ray of Sunshine comes from Choma district in Zambia.

Margret Bweupe is a school manager with three children. She bought a Greenlight Planet SunKing Pro from the SunnyMoney school team in March 2013. SolarAid’s research team followed up with her in November 2013 to find out how she is getting on with the light.

We use [the light] when we have a power cut or blackout. I also use it in my bedroom because I prefer the solar light to electricity. Also, when there is a power cut, my children and I use it for studying and preparing for the next day. Once you buy the solar light there are no other expenses on lighting.”

In fact, Margret now saves $2.30 a month on lighting and uses this to buy food for her baby. The children now study for an extra hour each evening, “because the light is bright and there are no fears of burning the house.”

When asked to rate her satisfaction with the light, Margret rated it 5 out of 5 (very satisfied) because, “the light is bright enough and it has no effects to our health.”

Margret has recommended her solar light to 10 of her friends.

Update on our big study

You may have heard about our randomised control trial (RCT) study into the impact of solar lights on poverty alleviation, funded by Google ($650,000).

We have some great news to update you with: Google have agreed to provide a further $127,000 of funding to allow us to have an add-on to the study. This add-on will focus on answering key questions around exposure rates to traditional lighting methods and the health impacts of this. There is a reasonable amount of evidence around the topic of the contribution of cooking to indoor air pollution, but nothing on lighting specifically, so this research will also be incredibly useful.

The RCT study will be conducted in Kenya, the pilot will start in October this year, with the main study starting in February 2015, and results available in June 2016.

SolarAid will not be delivering the study ourselves, we’ve selected some excellent research partners; we’ll update you on this as soon.

Find out more at www.solar-aid.org and follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with progress @Sunrise_Kat

New Country Report: Tanzania

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At SolarAid we’ve just released our first ever Country Report for Tanzania. It shares information on the activities, progress and impact of SunnyMoney in Tanzania in 2013. The Zambia one is available here, but watch out for Malawi and Kenya coming in the next few days. 

For now though, here’s a snapshot of the big impact we’ve had in Tanzania in 2013: 

  • 338,000 solar lights sold with an estimated:
  • 2 million people having better access to clean, safe, bright light
  • 980,000 people experiencing better health thanks to reducing the use of kerosene
  • $85 million saved for families from reducing spending on kerosene, candles and batteries*
  • 650 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework*
  • 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide averted due to reduced kerosene use*

* over the lifetime of the solar lights

Find out more at www.solar-aid.org

Ray of Sunshine: impact on learning

Since it’s nearly the summer holidays for schools across the UK and Africa, here are some great quotations from headteachers in Salima district in Malawi on the impact of the solar lights for the students at their schools:

“We have registered a enormous change in their performance,” Mcloud Sandi, headteacher at Muonekera school. Mcloud had “a special announcement in different churches about [SunnyMoney] products.”

“There is a major improvement in the perfomance of learners,” Ezara Gomani, headteacher at Mpitiura school. Ezara involved the village chiefs in the SunnyMoney School Campaign because they “are custodian of the people.”

“Learners have greatly improved in their understanding of materials at school,” Hastings Mapira, headteacher at Ngodzi school. Hastings “involved [the village chiefs] because they are regarded as the ones to recommend good developments like the solar lamps.”

Find out more about our work at www.solar-aid.org

Ray of Sunshine: *Sauda in Tanzania*

This week’s Ray of Sunshine has been chosen and written by guest star Vitalis Kaiza (pictured). Vitalis has just been trained as a SolarAid Research Assistant in Tanzania, he’s pictured above conducting a phone interview with a solar light customer.

* This story is about Sauda Mataka, a mother of four from Dodoma.

Sauda is a teacher and she bought a d.light S300 from the SunnyMoney team in August 2013. Before this light, Sauda used kerosene lamps to light her home.

“[The solar light] is the only source of light I have in my family, so it helps me a lot during night time for reading and lighting my house. I get enough light for my activities like reading and even my children are using it for studying at home. I am very satisfied because it gives enough light during night time and the good thing is you can select the brightness of light you want if it’s brighter or not.”

Sauda now lights her home for 6 hours a night (compared to 4 hours before) and her children study for three hours per day by using the light.

“I used to spend a lot of money to get the light in my house, it cost me more than 5,000 Tsh (nearly $3) per week to buy kerosene. Even my children they couldn’t study for so long because the light from those kerosene lamps could not satisfy them; gave them cough and eyes problems. But since I bought this [solar] light I see how my children improve academically, now they can study not less than three hours per day by using the light. I need to see my children improve more academically so I use the savings [from lighting spending] to buy them education items, give them more food in order to give them a good balance diet so they can grow healthier. I’m happy with my family since I got this light, my family health also have been changed after minimising the use of kerosene, now we don’t suffer with cough and eyes problems  anymore, all thanks to SolarAid they saved our lives.”  *

If you have any questions for Vitalis, just comment below.

Ray of Sunshine: Abdalah in Tanzania

The SolarAid research team in Tanzania have begun conducting follow up interviews with solar light customers in Dodoma region so we can find out what changes there have been since they got their light.

Abdalah Mariri, a father of four from Dodoma, bought a solar light in August 2013. The family used to light the home using one kerosene lamp which caused “serious coughing and eye itching”.

Now, Abdalah doesn’t use a kerosene lamp for light and has an extra hour of light each evening. The decision to buy the solar light was made by the whole family and Abdalah says,

I use it during night time to study with my children, and also it is the source of light I use to light my home. It helps me to teach my children various subjects from their school, so this light helps me a lot compared to the time when I was using kerosene lamp and candles. Before I got this light, I was spending a lot; when you use kerosene lamps or candles you need to make a budget because kerosene it too expensive, but this light it only depends on the sunlight which does not cost anything. Now, costs have been minimised. [I spend the savings on] more education especially to buy items that are needed by my children.

And when the research team asked about changes in health, Abdalah said, “Since I got this light my family is safe.”

Find out more about SolarAid’s work at www.solar-aid.org 

Ray of Sunshine: savings from solar

A few weeks ago the Ray of Sunshine shared what an average rural family in Africa would spend on lighting as a percentage of their income (based on our market research at SolarAid with the public). This Ray of Sunshine is even better; it’s sharing what percentage of income is saved after buying a solar light (based on our impact research with SunnyMoney customers).

On average, a solar light customer will experience around $70 annual savings or $1.40 a week. That might not sound like a lot, but for an average SunnyMoney customer, that’s 10% of their household income. They save this money because they’re able to reduce or stop their spending on kerosene for their lanterns, batteries for their torches or candles thanks to their bright, safe, reliable solar light.In fact, four in ten SunnyMoney customers eliminate all spending on lighting after a solar light purchase. These savings are most commonly spent on better food, education costs and farming inputs or business development.

Some pretty good outcomes!

Ray of Sunshine: payback period

So, you might wonder what the impact of some of the poorest people in Africa having to buy a solar light. Well the little solar lights bring so many benefits that it’s easily a good investment decision. What’s more, it means that SunnyMoney can be sustainable and reach many many more people to provide access to clean, safe, bright light. You can read more here.

Our average solar light customer will recoup the money spent on their solar light through savings on reducing expenditure on kerosene, candles or batteries within 10 weeks. Then, every week after that they save $1.40. The solar lights last up to five years so that’s a pretty wise purchase.

Follow me on Twitter to keep updated with more stats and facts.

New Country Report: Zambia

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Just today, at SolarAid we’ve released our first ever Country Report. This one is on Zambia and share information the activities, progress and impact of SunnyMoney in Zambia in 2013. We’ll be releasing Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania over the coming weeks. 

For now though, here’s a snapshot of the big impact we’ve had in Zambia in 2013: 

  • 49,700 solar lights sold with an estimated:
  • 358,000 people having better access to clean, safe, bright light
  • 145,000 people experiencing better health thanks to reducing the use of kerosene
  • $23 million saved for families from reducing spending on kerosene, candles and batteries*
  • 155 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework*
  • 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide averted due to reduced kerosene use*

* over the lifetime of the solar lights

Find out more at www.solar-aid.org

Ray of Sunshine: a headteacher in Zambia

Malisela Tembo, a headteacher in Zambia, attended a meeting at a local school in her district where she met the SunnyMoney team and was told about the benefits of solar lighting. Malisela was given a solar light to take back to her school and demonstrate to her teachers, students and community members. After seeing the light, some of the parents at Naviruri School decided to order one and Malisela informed the SunnyMoney teams that she would like these to be delivered.

Many of her students are now benefitting from brighter, safer light for longer and when we spoke to Malisela this year she told us that:


“There is a great difference, they are now using the light to study
and when you look at the results for the mock exam or mid-year
exam they were impressive. As the pupils were using the lights
when studying… The campaign was quite a success and if you
continue with that there would be no people using candles.”


Working with teachers helps SunnyMoney to educate communities about the benefits of solar and reach more people. Find out more at www.solar-aid.org