An innovative initiative using portable solar powered lamps has been launched to help bring light to Haitians struggling to cope without electricity.
The scheme, which is the brainchild of Netherlands-based solar company, WakaWaka Light, aims to deliver 50,000 renewable energy lamps, which will give around a quarter of a million people access to light.
For each purchase of a WakaWaka solar lamp, the company subsidizes a light that will be distributed by UNHCR and other organizations to impoverished Haitians still living in shelters since the devastating 2010 earthquake. The solar devices will start to be given out in spring.
Camille van Gestel, co-founder of WakaWaka Light, said the response to the lamps in America has been unprecedented. Despite the campaign, mainly through social media, only being a few weeks old, “we are currently at roughly 20 percent of our goal.”
Inadequate access to power is not just a problem for the 330,000 or so people still living in tent cities. It is estimated around seven to eight million people, out of a population of ten million, live without daily electricity or a back-up system during power outages.
What should be a basic human right is luxury for middle and high-income earners who can afford the costly generators, converters and solar power systems. In fact, outside of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other major cities, in some areas electricity is nonexistent.
“Before the earthquake millions lived without adequate electricity but this number greatly increased in the aftermath of the quake and this is now worse since Hurricane Sandy,” said Els Vervloet, a Dutch native and WakaWaka light volunteer who has lived in Haiti for 24 years.