Without energy, there is no development. Access to electricity allows children to do their homework, entrepreneurs to put their sewing machines into work or a teenager to have a glass of drinking water. Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is one of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations as part of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, aimed at transforming the world in the next 15 years. A need to which volunteers from non-governmental organizations such as Electriciens sans frontières have assumed.
Education in some isolated areas of developing countries is still out of reach for most people. There are several reasons why children are forced to drop out of school. One is the need to work from a very early age to help with family expenses. Another reason is insecurity, as many have to walk long distances to attend school, often in complete darkness. Many projects have been carried out to bring sustainable electricity to different schools and improve people’s living conditions. The impact has been enormous.
Access to electricity in a school equals knowledge, socialization and dialogue. It allows young people to attend classes in the evenings and older people to attend workshops or acting classes. It makes it possible for students to have access to drinking water while creating new jobs. Also, access to electricity extends the school day because it allows classes to start earlier and finish later. It leads to inclusion and allows the installation of computers so that students can connect with the rest of the world.
At a school in Kierma, Burkina Faso, Electriciens sans frontières installed an electricity network to supply the building. This meant a huge improvement for students and their teachers. However, there was a reality they hadn’t yet considered.
One of the reasons for the increase in dropout rates and illiteracy was the enormous distances children had to walk in order to attend classes. Sometimes dangerous roads, which they had to walk in total darkness.
Volunteers found in solar lamps both a way to attract children to school and offering a solution to insecurity. An initiative that had a direct impact on other aspects, such as disease prevention and the well-being of community members. From education, it is possible to work on other problems the community is facing, such as sexually transmitted diseases. Also, high infant mortality rates, which according to UNESCO is related in part to the lack of female schooling.
The aim was offering a solution to the individual needs of the students, beyond the immediate vicinity of the school. Therefore, Electriciens sans frontières began a project aimed at providing access to light in students՚ homes in a safe way, replacing candles and oil lamps that pose a risk to health and the environment.
In addition, solar lamps allow students to continue studying and do their homework in the evening, which in that region starts around 6 p.m.. Electriciens sans frontières in collaboration with Lagazel , has managed to install a total of eight luminotheques in the Kierma school. They consist of portable solar lamps recharging stations that today offer 310 families the opportunity to have access to sustainable, clean and safe lighting.
But access to electricity comes with responsibilities. At the end of the class, each student is assigned a lamp. They return it the next day, to be recharged during the day through solar panels installed at the school. This system has proven to work as a very powerful incentive in terms of children’s schooling and attendance.
An initiative that starts in a school yet improves the living conditions of an entire community.