With more than 1 billion people – about 14% of the world’s population –  still without access to energy, finding affordable ways to get electricity in their homes is crucial if many countries are going to have a reasonable chance at achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals, including clean energy for all, zero poverty, good health and well-being, and gender equality (Source: UNCTAD).

In sub-Saharan Africa, around 600 million people live ‘off the grid’. In Tanzania, only 37.7% of people have access to electricity (Source: World Bank). Those without power in Tanzania – around 35-40 million people – live primarily in rural areas, where poverty is most rampant and where women and girls comprise the majority of the population.

Although energy poverty affects everyone in the home, it hits women and girls the hardest. Traditionally in Africa, women are responsible for how the home is lit and how the food is cooked. Many of their daytime hours are spent gathering wood for fuel. This leaves little time for school or for work outside the home. It’s one of the reasons why the majority of the world’s poor are women.

Maternity Africa recently received a generous donation of 3,024 LittleSun portable solar-powered LED lamps from Little Sun Foundation eV – a not-for-profit organisation whose vision is universal access to clean energy.  We have already distributed around 300 of the lamps to vulnerable and marginalized women who attend Kivulini Maternity Centre to deliver their babies.  Many of these impoverished women come from basic homes where there is no electricity.  We also undertake outreach activities to underserved, rural communities – offering vital antenatal care, postnatal care and cervical cancer screening – to women in those areas – so we give them some of the lights too.

The added benefit of the lights to these women will be significant.  Being so close to the Equator, there are almost 12 hours of darkness in Northern Tanzania, every day and year round.  Further, with little or no access to electricity, peoples’ homes lack sufficient light to attend to many domestic tasks, including looking after babies.  So, the benefit of these solar lights is huge – women can now attend to these tasks during the hours of darkness much more safely.

We are grateful to Little Sun Foundation eV. Thank you.

Photo credit: Brown Pix.

Press here to help Maternity Africa to make childbirth safe for poor women in rural Tanzania. Thank you.