Child rights organization Plan International is bringing light to millions of children’s lives as it joins hands with leading solar energy firm SkyPower to distribute SkyPower Home solar kits to energy poor households, schools and health clinics in rural Kenya, providing triple benefits in terms of education, health and protection.
This five-year initiative, which will see two million SkyPower Home solar kits distributed, is set to make a transformative contribution to renewable energy for some of the poorest households in Kenya. It will also reduce reliance on the usage of polluting kerosene, by providing access to clean energy through kits consisting of a panel, integrated radio, LED bulbs, torches and USB cables and ports for charging mobile devices.
The announcement comes as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) comes to a close, with governments concluding negotiations on a new international climate change agreement. The COP21 has called on accelerated action in developing countries to address climate change and this project represents a step change improvement in Kenyans’ access to renewable energy.
“Plan International is proud to announce this landmark partnership with SkyPower. It couldn’t come at a more pertinent time as important moves are made to address climate change,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.
“Providing access to home solar kits across rural Kenya has the power to transform and enhance the lives of children and those living in remote communities.”
According to the World Bank, as of 2012, only 23% of Kenya’s population has access to electricity. It is estimated that 60% of urban residents, and only 7% of rural residents, are connected to the electricity grid.
Plan International’s partnership with SkyPower, one of the largest developers and owners of utility-scale solar energy projects in the world, is set to narrow the energy poverty gap, while enhancing access to education, health and protection for poor households, for children and other vulnerable communities.
“Plan International has worked in Kenya for over 33 years and our work supports over 800,000 families. This project will contribute towards ensuring the safe delivery of infants in clinics, that boys and girls succeed in school, women and girls are more protected and climate change is addressed,” continued Albrectsen. “Triple positive impacts will be felt in education, health and protection, in line with Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 7.”
Three-quarters of households in Kenya use kerosene for lighting – a proven health risk, especially for infants.
In Kenya, neonatal mortality is 34% higher in kerosene-using homes. Only one in four health facilities in Kenya have a reliable energy supply, forcing them to stay closed at night. This, together with other factors, means some 56% of births in Kenya occur in homes under the light of kerosene lamps or the dim light of a cellphone, leading to higher health risks for mothers and babies. The Plan International/SkyPower partnership will provide solar kits to rural health clinics, contributing to safer deliveries.
SkyPower solar kits will be provided to schools currently lacking access to electricity, while home solar kits mean children can complete their homework and continue their studies after dark. Teachers will also be able to prepare their lessons for the next day.
Providing solar lamps to villages means key community areas such as water points and latrines can be lit up, improving safety for community members, especially women and girls.
“SkyPower is proud to support Kenya’s leadership’s vision for a sustainable and prosperous society based on modern, green solar energy for all,” said Kerry Adler, SkyPower’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our partnership with Plan International to distribute two million SkyPower Home solar kits to the people of Kenya aligns with SkyPower’s mandate of working with the best partners for the purpose of energizing communities around the world by providing them with access to safe, affordable and reliable solar electricity.”
In addition, radio messages supporting education and alerting people to improved lighting conditions at their local health centre will be broadcast, while people will be able to receive these messages through their solar-powered radios. Young people will also be trained to provide solar kit repair services in their communities.
About SkyPowers SHS and distribution management:
- Each SkyPower Home solar kit will include a solar panel and inverter to harness the power of the sun, LED bulbs, flashlight, USB charging capabilities for charging cell phones and other handheld electronic devices and a solar-powered radio.
- Careful targeting of communities will be done to ensure that the ultra-poor and poor receive these kits, rather than those who can afford to purchase solar energy on their own.
- Plan International has extensive experience in the large-scale distribution of gifts-in-kind across Sub-Saharan Africa. Using a phased approach over the next five years, the distribution will focus on regions with low electricity and high poverty rates.
- Working through rural primary schools, local School Management Committees and traditional leaders, Plan International staff and volunteers will work together to manage distribution, storage and outreach to individual households.
- Solar management and monitoring teams will also be created – comprised of youth from the local community – and they will speak to their neighbours about how the solar kits are working, and undertake any maintenance or repairs or hot swap that may be needed. Members of the solar management and monitoring teams will be provided with specialized training in solar kit maintenance and basic repairs – delivered through partnerships with local technical, vocational and education training centres.
- Members of the community will be able to alert the solar management and monitoring teams that their kits are in need of repair through SMS, ensuring timely service.