Lights4Literacy Shines During COVID-19
Guest blog written by Siriman Kiryowa, Solar Health Uganda Field Research Analyst.
Lights4Literacy is an innovative solar project in Uganda. It is a collaborative educational program undertaken by Let There Be Light International (LTBLI), Kyosiga Community Christian Association for Development (KACCAD), Solar Health Uganda (SHU) and the Uganda Spelling Bee (Enjuba). Lights4Literacy donates safe solar lights and age-appropriate books to children in vulnerable, off-grid homes to improve literacy rates and impact educational outcomes.
During the pandemic, Ugandan schools were closed for nearly two years, and just recently began reopening. In fact, according to the Ministry of Education, up to 30% of students will never return to school, a tragic situation for the children, as well as for the country. During the lockdown, most students could not access any reading materials and most homes do not contain books. Let There Be Light International and Solar Health Uganda realized that together, we could donate light and hope to students in our service areas. Thanks to a productive partnership with Enjuba, hundreds of children now have safe lighting at home and a book to share with their families and friends.
The solar lights, outreach and project implementation are funded by LTBLI (www.lettherebelightinternational.org), while the colorful and locally produced children’s books are provided by the Enjuba. KACCAD, a local community development organization administers Lights4Literacy, and Solar Health Uganda (www.solarhealthuganda.org) implements the project in partnership with the Enjuba team. The project targets children belonging to off-grid households. Each child receives one solar light and an assortment of books. If there are multiple children in the same household, each child gets her/his/their own books, but each household receives only one solar light which can be shared by all of the children. For LTBLI’s records and to facilitate monitoring and evaluation efforts, data is collected from parents and guardians including demographics, contact numbers, current type of energy used for household lighting, and levels of weekly expenditure on household lighting. We also ask whether there exist respiratory-related health problems among the household members, and if any member of the household has ever suffered a burn while using, for example, a wax candle or kerosene lamp.
Lights4Literacy has distributed 700 solar lights and benefitted approximately 3,500 people in the 700 households. The usage of solar lights has enabled the households not only to reduce their lighting expenses but also to improve the general health status of the entire family through reduced exposure to polluted air.
Siriman resides in Wakiso, Uganda and is a Field Research Analyst for Solar Health Uganda. He creates survey tools and analyzes data from the field while supporting various Solar Health Uganda projects in all their phases. He has a background in Environmental Agriculture and a degree from Makerere University in Kampala.