Light the World- GHANAGlobal efforts to promote sustainable and renewable energy are a positive initiative with far reaching socio-economic and health benefits. According to United Nation-Sustainable Energy for All 2010 Campaign, 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity and the smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly 2 million people every year, primarily women and children.
Overall, about 55 percent of the population of Ghana use kerosene lantern for their lighting needs. In the tri-northern regions, over 85 percent of the population use kerosene lantern as their main source of night light. In reality, the percentage of kerosene lantern users are higher than those reported due to the excessive and persistent rationing of electricity in the entire nation, particularly in the northern half of the nation. In districts such as Jirappa-Lambussie, the number of households that use kerosene lanterns as their main source of night light is 88.9 percent.
Our most pressing objective for the current year is to distribute 20,000 solar lanterns in the severely impoverished Upper West, Upper East, and Northern regions of Ghana. The citizens of these regions are among the poorest of the nation and live in an infrastructure providing sporadic electrical power to only 15 percent of the total population. The remaining 85precent rely on the power of the sun in its purest form (and only during daylight hours) to light their daily lives. Once the sun sets, kerosene lanterns and, in some cases, candles are the primary sources of light.
These regions have a population of 4.8 million people and approximately 85 percent of the population use kerosene lanterns for their lighting needs. These kerosene lanterns have many negative effects on the population and the environment. The fumes from the lanterns have resulted in many respiratory diseases and other health issues; midwives struggle to deliver babies at night; and children perform very poorly in school because they don�t have access to lighting during the night when they have to study or do their homework.
The purpose of our Light the World Campaign is to help reduce the negative effects of the use of kerosene lanterns to the people, promote socio-economic development, and help offset carbon dioxide emissions from kerosene lanterns. The implementation of these solar lamps will also help to curb the damaging health effects of kerosene on the respiratory systems of those who live in close quarters with the emissions of kerosene lanterns on a daily basis.
There have been long standing plans to increase energy supply to the north since the mid-1960s (over 45 years) through the construction of the Bui Dam on the Black Volta. This is yet to be realized. Currently, the north receives electricity through the Akosombo dam. A large majority of the north, however, suffer from insufficient, inconsistent, and unreliable power supply from the Akosombo Dam.
The Upper East, Upper West, and Northern regions of Ghana are the driest and least served population in the country. The development gap between the southern regions (Brong-Ahafo and the regions south of it) and the 3 northern regions is alarming. Ghana has a total population of 24.5 Million of which 4.8 Million are in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. With 97,708 km� of the total 238,535 km� of the total area of Ghana, these regions occupy 41 percent of the entire country; yet they receive less than 10 percent of the country�s infrastructure development and energy supply.
The lack of consistent and reliable electricity has created a major socio-economic crisis in this region; including education, health, employment, gender equality, child labor, and standard of living.
The few students in school are further harmed by the inability to complete homework assignments or even study after school. This has significantly contributed to the wide gap in academic achievement and opportunities for youth from the tri-northern regions as compared to their southern counterparts. In the Upper West region, the proportion of the population aged 15 and above who are illiterate in any language is 73.4 percent.
The academic challenges in this region directly correlates with the number of hours spent studying or even doing homework. TAE believes that the distribution of solar lanterns to this region will positively contribute to the student�s ability to study when the sun goes down increasing their chances of better academic performance and consequently improved socio-economic opportunities.
While kerosene lanterns are prolific and serve their purpose, they also bring with them a myriad of problems, including health and environmental issues, both to the local user and the entire community. There is a high correlation between educational levels and positive health and other positive social indicators.
Students needing to complete their homework in the evenings are dependent on these low-light kerosene lanterns to brighten their workspace. There may be many students crowded around a common lantern, vying for the �best light�. This scenario presents a number of health risks to the students; the low-light of the kerosene lanterns will create eye-strain, and potentially lead to future vision problems. Additionally, being in such close proximity to the burning lantern is ensuring that these students are directly inhaling the heavy, greasy soot and smoke generated from the burning of the kerosene.
The burning kerosene has a ripple effect far beyond the lungs of the students. In close proximity, the pollution created will disperse through the home and be inhaled by the other inhabitants, both young and old. The pollution is rife with CO�. A single lantern will produce 100kg of CO� if burned for 4 hours, every day, for the entire year. Multiply that by 20,000, the number of homes in the communities targeted in the scope of the Northern Ghana project. That�s assuming that each household only has one lantern, and is only burning it for 4 hours!
Not only students are affected, but also hospitals, clinics, and local huts are impacted by the need for light. Traditional birthing attendants serve as the primary midwives in this mostly rural region, helping new mothers give birth in huts powered by kerosene lanterns. They do their work mostly in the dark, should an infant decide to make an appearance after the sun sets; the only means is to use kerosene lanterns. The mother is breathing in that smoke, as is the new arrival.
TAE intends to work closely with its partners in ensuring that communities in need are provided with reliable light sources that work off-the-grid without affecting the health of surrounding environments.
We at TAE envision a partnership with YOU in our Light the World Campaign. The relationship would assist this foundling enterprise in gaining visibility, support and confidence from other potential partners.Your donations and contributions would directly correlate to a tangible number of lanterns/brightened households around the world and put TAE that much closer to actually "Lighting the World".