Natural disasters are known to happen in very many countries and there is nothing much that people can do to prevent them. This was the case in Haiti when a mighty earthquake shook the island in 2010. It left in its wake a lot of destruction. Homes were destroyed and people lost all they had. Starting from scratch meant living in camps and tents until things became better.
Reconstruction efforts have however progressed very slowly and most of the people still live in camps. This has remained their home and the problems present in every human settlement have begun affecting the people. The darkness has seen an increase in gender-based violence, especially against women.
Charitable organizations decided to install solar outdoor lighting at every possible point that is considered a black spot or where a woman can be vulnerable. This included solar pathway lighting near water distribution points, showers and latrines.
Over time these solar powered lights have not only led to a reduction in the sexual violence, they have also led to more possibilities. Women have now taken up informal trade and can continue selling their wares into the night. Socialization beyond daytime is also possible now and this brings on a sense of normalcy and hope instead of despair. Those studying can also do it quietly and comfortably using these lights.
As Haiti works towards rebuilding itself help has been offered from different quarters and the UN allocating $11.5 billion dollars to this cause. One of the major points is of course lighting but Haiti already had a very low access rate to electricity with only 12.5 percent of its nine million-strong population connected to the grid.
Those that were not connected to the grid but had money used diesel fuel generators to produce electricity. After the occurrence of the earthquake diesel prices soared thus reducing the options for most of the people.
A climate change advocacy organization recommended that instead of using the funds allocated to get people onto the grid, solar lighting can be used instead. This is because its cost is much less at $400 million and there would be no operating costs afterwards. It is also very clean and not noisy as compare to diesel fuel generators.
Installing solar street lighting right outside the tents would improve many more sectors because the health sector would receive a boost as well. Hospitals are scarce and clinics not well equipped to handle the various cases. Maternal health would especially benefit from solar lighting because deliveries would be carried out at any time. The benefits can be extended with solar parking lot lighting as they are bright and very durable.
Taking it a step further, job creation is essential to the growth of Haiti and manufacturing their own solar lighting solutions is one of the options. It gives the people sustainable lighting solutions and money to improve their lives. That is great motivation to the community and very empowering. Lives are slowly changing in Haiti simply because of solar powered lights.
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