Project: Shine A Light

Location: Koraput, India Time: October 2008 - December 2008
Target:  50 Households
Estimated Cost:$10,000
Actual:162 Households
Actual Cost:$10,982


Beyond Solar partnered with D.light Design, a solar lantern manufacturer based in New Delhi; and South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA), a NGO focused on improving the livelihood of tribal villagers of the Koraput district in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

D. Light Design's Nova solar lantern provides up to 40 hours of solar powered light on one solar charge, due largely in part to the ultra-efficient LED lighting source. This economical unit provides ample light for village dwellings while remaining compact enough to offer each user the benefit of portability.

Village Information

Beyond Solar and SOVA field workers distributed lanterns to three villages in the Koraput District : Puki, New Kerenga, and Ganjei Padar. All three have been recently displaced as a result of the construction of a hydro-electric dam, yet all are without grid-supplied electricity. The villages displayed many common characteristics, such as:

  • Approximately 80% of villagers are of a tribal background; the remaining belong to the Scheduled Caste

  • An average monthly income of Rs.(Rupees) 625, or about $12.50

  • The primary source of income is selling agriculture products and manual labor such as breaking stones

  • Average distance to the nearest market is 5km; villagers make approx. 2-3 trips to the market per week

  • Kerosene expense equals approximately Rs. 100-150 per month

  • All reported damage to homes and injuries from kerosene lamp fires

Deployment Process

In an effort to prove our theory that providing solar powered lighting to the poor could be a sustainable, scalable process, we had to establish value in the eyes of the villagers. To do this, we made one or two trips to the village simply to ask questions, demonstrate the benefits of the lights, and build rapport with people. We left a few lights with the villagers so they could experience the benefits of the lights firsthand.

After this trial period, we returned to the village to hear about their experiences and then to sign up interested villagers. Imagine our suprise when the villagers bought ALL of our lanterns! What we learned is that even in a few short days, the villagers saw the tremendous benefits of the lights. We also know that we should focus on doing another project of this nature.

Reported Results

The list below contains benefits reported from the users of the lanterns:

  • No purchase of kerosene or trips to market

  • Used for 3-4 hours per night at the highest brightness setting

  • Enough brightness for kids to study (not possible with kerosene lighting)

  • Food preparation
    • Can be done at night
    • More sanitary by preventing insects from getting in food

  • Mobile Use
    • Protection from bears and other wild animals at night
    • Inspection of crops

  • Noticeable improvement in air quality and safety

  • Longer working hours
    • Domestic activities performed at night leaving more time for income work during the day
    • Leaf-plate manufacturing, netting up to Rs. 10 per day

At the time of writing, 100% of the villagers have made their payments on time.

For more details of our Shine A Light project, click here.

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