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Disaster Relief

The Role of Reliable Solar-powered Lighting in Modern Day Disaster Relief Efforts

  •  August 04, 2016
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What would you classify as basic human needs? Food, water and shelter. At least, that’s what Maslow tells us. But what if we were to change the context? Would these three still be the basic needs? Or will something else take their precedence?

And that is precisely what happens when disaster strikes. Be it through the brute force of nature - earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, or through man-made acts, like wars, countless number of families are displaced, separated, destroyed and lose all that they have.

It is highly stressful for the survivors living in hastily-built refugee camps, particularly as family members can become separated and lost in camps which have populations larger than many cities. In these times, lighting quickly becomes a fundamental need of the refugees. Unfortunately, that is more often than not, scarce, or dependent on dirty fuel. This not only increases the risk of a fire-hazard in the refugee tents but also leads to respiratory diseases due to inhalation of their toxic fumes. Lack of safe, clean lighting even increases the risk of sexual assault for women & other forms of gender-based violence, both because they are vulnerable in dark camps.

This is where innovation in solar - powered lighting, that can lead to light and portable solar lighting, whilst providing sufficient illumination for longer periods is necessitated. Today, thanks to rapid innovation in the segment, lamps also come with phone charging capabilities, enabling families to keep in touch with their closed ones during these times. This became amply clear during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed around 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless – one of the first disasters where aid workers were able to attempt large-scale distribution of solar systems.

Thus, the need is for a highly reliable, efficient and portable solar lighting solution that is the perfect answer to these situations. Companies like Greenlight Planet are on a mission to continuously improve three key technologies – solar photovoltaic cells, batteries, and LEDs (light emitting diodes) to offer reliable solar lighting where it is needed the most. The unique design of the Sun King range of lamps from Greenlight Planet ensure that they can be hung anywhere, transported easily and offer bright light that is 16 times brighter than the light of one candle or a kerosene lamp. The battery technology ensures that these lights can last up to 45 hours continuously on a single charge. Moreover, the solar lights can also be used for mobile charging, ensuring connectivity. These lamps have been found to be indispensable in disaster relief in Nepal, Fiji, Philippines, Rwanda and other disaster hit countries around the world.

Solar energy offers hope that people in crisis can spend scarce resources on putting their lives back together, instead of wasting money on fuel. But, funding still remains the problem. As per the latest UN report, the number of displaced people has reached an all-time high of 65.3 million. Hence, it is imperative that the aid organizations around the world join hands with clean energy companies and build the access to the fundamental needs of the refugees.

To find out more about Greenlight Planet and the Sun King range of lamps, join Global Disaster Relief Summit 2016 in Washington D.C. this September. For more information about the event and how to register your participation, please visit http://disaster-relief.aidforum.org

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