Like many young men in Namawanga, Kenya, Joseph lives with his family on a small piece of land in a humble two room home made of sticks, mud, and tin. This past season, Joseph, unemployed and lacking a skill-set that could be used for employment, became a LOTI-certified solar technician. Along with eleven other trained men, Joseph successfully installed photovoltaic (solar) systems in fifteen homes, providing lighting for 90 schoolchildren who will now be able to study in the late evening. This knowledge provides Joseph with a valuable source of income, dignity of self accomplishment, as well as respect in his community.
LOTI’s training sessions started with 40 young men, and through a series of testing and training resulted in 12 solar technicians, fully capable of installing and maintaining the lighting systems. Like Joseph, these young men were previously unemployed. Through the support of LOTI, these technicians established a solar installation and maintenance business, and have the necessary tools and education to implement all future LOTI solar projects in Namawanga and the surrounding villages. Along with the technical solar training, small business seminars were taught to over 50 villagers, with a focus on starting a business with personal skills.
An additional aspect of the solar lighting project was the provision of micro-loans to enable the purchase of the LOTI solar lighting systems. As these loans are repaid (which to date have had a repayment of over 90%), more members of the community are able to purchase the systems. Our work in this region has generated a tremendous response. The demand for solar power in Namawanga and in all the surrounding communities is far beyond the supply. Significantly, the use of the systems in Namawanga has reduced the number of upper respiratory tract infections. In developing countries, more than 1.5 million deaths per year are caused by air pollution from the use of wood, dung, coal, and other traditional fuels used for household energy (World Health Organization, 2006). The solar lighting systems also have provided a 70-98% savings on the cost of kerosene for lighting, and enhanced academic performance due to better quality light for night reading (see Moses Lupao’s story below).
The second part of LOTI’s projects in Namawanga involved the installation of an innovative crop irrigation technique. Two graduate student affiliates were awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to design and implement an innovative irrigation pumping system to be used by LOTI to aid poor farmers. Along with local farmers, the LOTI team installed and demonstrated the irrigation system in Namawanga. To promote the ability of farmers to install their own irrigation systems, all the materials used in the system were bought in local markets.
Programs such as the one that enabled Joseph to become a productive member of his community are one way that LOTI meets the basic needs of the poor. In the next six months, new projects will commence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and in Eastern Kenya with the installation of a mobile solar powered vaccine refrigerator, solar lighting for elementary schools, and water access projects.
Thank you for your continued and faithful support. Your contributions and prayers have enabled LOTI to demonstrate the love of God to the poor by meeting their basic needs.
Reed Barton Justin Henriques
Executive Directors, Co-founders