Study after Sunset
For over 1.5 billion people around the world, night-time means either darkness or the dim glow of an unhealthy kerosene lamp or candle. Such poor-quality lighting has dramatic impact and health and educational opportunities, and an important aim of the International Year of Light will be to promote the use of portable solar-powered high-brightness LED lanterns in regions where there is little or no reliable source of light. This page will provide resources explaining this problem, explain how we are planning to address it, and show how you can get involved.
In developing and third-world countries without access to electricity, 1.3 billion people depend on kerosene for light. The burning of kerosene lamps leads to the death of 1.5 million people every year. Inhaling kerosene smoke is the equivalent of smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day, and commonly induces respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cancer in tens of millions of people. The open flame of kerosene lamps also pose as an obvious danger to households. Moreover, impoverished families spend up to half of their income on kerosene which not only provides inadequate illumination but also emits extremely harmful black carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere. Kerosene lamps contribute to a vicious cycle of poverty that needs to be broken.
Providing clean, efficient forms of energy to developing communities is not only important for health reasons - it is also vital for productivity. Families in rural communities rely on work to provide for the most basic needs of their family, and are currently limited in hours due to scarce lighting after sunset. The majority of children in developing countries are also expected to work during the day to help provide for their family. With no or inadequate light at night, these youth are unable to read or write, and thus deprived of an education. Possibly the most pressing issue of all is access to healthcare. Hospitals are able to care for patients during the day but shut down operations at night because they do not have adequate lighting. With limited health care professionals and increasing levels of illnesses and disease in developing countries, it is crucial that these hospitals receive new means of lighting.
Difficulty convincing these off-grid communities that sustainable, high-tech lighting alternatives is the reason many are still using kerosene lamps. There are countless organizations that devote their efforts towards providing clean lighting in the form of solar and LEDs, but it is not always an easily executed task. As the price of LED and photovoltaic technology decreases, however, implementing these technologies will become increasingly actionable.
The Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) is especially active in contributing to the further development of the off-grid lighting sector through several ongoing projects. In their words, “positioning off-grid lighting outside the philanthropic arena as a fully recognized industry in an important and growing market”. GOGLA is constantly working with businesses in developing countries to reduce barriers and increase opportunity for sustainable lighting alternatives.