THE SITUATION

In almost all of the world's developing countries, it's already dark from 7 o'clock each night. In many rural areas, the only lighting available in the evening and nighttime hours is makeshift, provided by candles, kerosene or battery-powered flashlights. The flashlights rely on disposable batteries (since there's no electricity to charge rechargeable one) and they cost about $1.00 a month to replace. This also leads to large quantities of battery waste that cannot be disposed of properly.

 

 

The use of petroleum-based fuels is even more problematic: it runs a particularly high risk of fire; huts and entire houses burn down, with residents often being killed or disfigured for life. The constant inhalation of the fumes from the burning of petroleum-based fuels in houses and huts (at a rate of 200 kg CO² per year from each lamp) quite often leads to cancer and tuberculosis. In addition, kerosene is very expensive. A household using an average of 6 liters a month faces a monthly bill of $4.00 or more for kerosene.  To avoid these costs, many families spend most of the evening in the dark. The light given off by a kerosene lamp is also rather sparse, illuminating a radius of 30 to 40 cm at the most, meaning that most demanding activities requiring attention to detail can't be done by its light. The people are unable to read or work in this dim light and the children, who go to school during the day and help their parents in the fields or at home afterwards, are unable to do their preparation for the next day's lessons by the time dark falls.

 

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