The objective of this project is to provide Solar Lanterns to replace kerosene lamps, in off-grid villages to improve the health, safety, education, employment, and energy needs of the villagers. Kerosene lanterns use heavily subsidized kerosene, which is a fire hazard and a pollutant that causes indoor air pollution that result in severe respiratory problems for children and adults alike living in village huts.
The following are the benefits to villagers:
- Elimination of the use of hazardous kerosene hurricane lanterns and substituting them with sustainable and pollution-free solar lamps at an affordable cost to the rural poor,
- better availability of green and clean lighting for income earning crafts activities,
- more reading hours for school-age children living in the huts,
- lighting for school/adult education activities,
- elimination of burns to babies, children and fire hazards, and
- potential for business opportunities to local entrepreneurs, and employment opportunities to women and men.
With the initiative of Bharathi Theertha and India Development Coalition of America, the Rotary Club of Naperville, IL USA received a matching grant of $25,000 from Rotary International Foundation to provide solar lanterns to the homes of poor villagers living eight villages of Madhya Pradesh (M.P.) The Rotary Club of Satna, M.P., our host club, with the help of Deen Dayal Research Institute, Chitrakoot, M.P. India provided the local support to distribute and maintain the solar lanterns in about 420 households.
Villagers agreed to pay Rs. 60 per month for leasing the lanterns against the Rs. 180 they were spending per month to buy keorsene to light their hurricane lanterns. Solar lanterns when fully charged yield light for six hours vs. three hours that villagers were getting from their hurricane lanterns using kerosene as fuel.
After the project was successfully implemented in eight villages, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) staff visited these villages. They were impressed, and provided a grant equivalent to $75,000 to procure solar lanterns and the equipment to charge the lanterns. With this grant solar lanterns and charging stations were installed in the homes of 36 villages.
This project has benefitted a total of 10,500 people living in 2,620 tenements of 44 villages of Madhya Pradesh, India. Also, in each village it provided employment for two poor women, whose job is to service the solar lanterns, charge them at the solar latern charging station, and delivering them to the villagers. The villagers bring their lanterns in the morning for charging to the charging stations, and take the lanterns back in the evening after they are fully charged.