Let there be light! Homework, going to the toilet and more family time

Solar lamps for villagers in Pakistan

We take electric light for granted. Especially after dark, we use it to read, eat dinner with our families, find our way and do things we did not manage to finish during the day.

Rural areas in Pakistan are not connected to the electricity grid. When the sun sets at about 6 pm, villagers are left in the dark. The people in Sindh province are more often then others affected by droughts and flooding, and cannot afford candles and kerosene lamps. A solar lamp can help these people to make their evenings more productive, convivial and safer.

Background

Partly because of the lack of basic state services, Pakistan is deemed a fragile state. Institutions at all levels of state are not able to provide basic services. Throughout the country there is a severe deficit in supplying energy to the rapidly growing population. Rural areas are not connected to the national grid, thus the majority of people there have no way of using electric equipment. Furthermore, the rural population suffers from poverty. 21% of Pakistanis have to live on less than 1.20 euros per day. The majority of these (approx. 80%) lives in rural areas (UNDP 2015, IFAD 2014). The lack of electricity exacerbates poverty, has negative ramifications on an already low level of education and constrains the everyday lives of people (BMZ 2011).

The remote villages in the provinces of Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar are often affected by flooding and drought. Not being connected to the grid and the exorbitant prices for candles and kerosene lamps mean that sunset usually brings total darkness. After the work in the fields is done, there is no daylight left to do everyday chores such as small repairs or the children's homework. Further, the lack of light brings hidden dangers. Many crimes are committed in the dark, so many people dare not leave the house after sunset.

Especially women and girls feel afraid and so avoid using the outside toilet or going to fetch water after dark. Traditionally, they have few rights in Pakistan, and because of the strict moral principles and social discrimination, they are more susceptible to violence and rape. This particularly applies to young unmarried women in rural areas. More light and visibility is a first step towards giving them and other villagers more freedom of action (DW 2012, Amnesty International 2014).

The good deed

Every family in the project villages receives a solar lamp. Even a few lamps per village can significantly raise the quality of live of the villagers. After working in the fields, families have more hours of light. As the lamps are small and come with a hook for hanging, they are very versatile. During the hours of sunlight — which Pakistan has a lot of — the batteries are charged using solar panels and then last for about eight hours after sunset. The batteries are expected to last for about two years and can then be exchanged (Nokero 2014). The lamps are distributed to the families in the participating villages by the local partner organisation "Participatory Village Development Program" (PVDP).

Challenges

The main challenge will be ensuring that all members of a family, and especially women and girls, get access to the solar lamps. In the villages it is traditionally the men who make decisions for their families and so can determine whether women and girls are allowed to use these lamps. To meet that challenge, the local partner organisation PVDP will talk to the heads of families prior to issuing the lamps to convince them that women and girls need to be allowed to use them. Another challenge is a fair distribution of the lamps. PVDP will only issue lamps to a village, if every family can have one. In case the contributions from 24GoodDeeds are not sufficient, action medeor will augment the budget where necessary. To familiarise the families with the use of the lamps (e.g. charging the batteries), PVDP will demonstrate them in all villages. Deployment of the lamps will be supported by PVDP and action medeor as part of other ongoing projects.

Ambition

Necessity
Activity
Countable output

After around 7 months

Result

After around 3 years

Systemic effect

After around 7 years

Lighting after sunset for Pakistani families in villages without access to electricity.
Every village family in the provinces of Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar will be issued with a solar lamp.
Number of families that get and use a solar lamp.
School children are able to do their homework after dark, women and girls feel safer when fetching water or using outside toilets.
More and improved education for children, more security and freedom of action for women and girls.

 

Initiative Transparente ZivilgesellschaftSpendenrat e. V. – Der Dachverband spendensammelnder gemeinnütziger Organisationen