By Rhea Ranjan
What struck me about Lifeline Energy was more than the mere prospect of experience in marketing. It was the uniqueness in what the organisation focused on and aimed to achieve. It is a non-profit focused on dealing with unique issue of energy poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as other regions in the world. It focuses on providing solar-powered and wind-up lighting and radios and MP3s to rural communities with the aim to provide safe lighting for daily activities, information, education and access to communication with the outside world.
Few understand the importance of light and communication. Instead the general ideas regarding development relate to the big in-your-face issues such as daily income levels, famine, etc. This is not to say these issues are not important. However while a large percentage of the world’s development resources focus on these issues, the attention given to the basic concepts of light and communication within a community is just not there. As Kristine Pearson (CEO) said to me while explaining Lifeline Energy, “You need to have been in the field and out there to see and understand what radio does. When a child can suddenly hear a radio programme and learn about things that she never even thought about. You have to see for yourself to see how radio completely opens up someone’s world.”
By opening up your world, Pearson refers to how many aspects of daily life the organisation can affect. By providing safe and efficient lighting products, the use of dangerous kerosene as a lighting fuel reducing the detrimental effects on communities caused by fires and inhalation. This is a particularly common problem in poor countries. Clean light also helps children study, boosting attendance and exam results. Such a simple plan has found a starting point to a solution required to achieve the UN Millennium Goals. Likewise, projects using radio have helped communities in several different ways, like bringing information to remote areas in the form of news as well as educational programs for healthcare initiatives. There’s a long running primary education programme in Zambia called ‘Learning at Taonga Market’ which improves education levels in communities.
The use of radio, is a great idea, it will indeed open lines of thought and commmunication between Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. And safe lighting works like a charm also.