Submitted by: Kennedy & Violich Architecture
Implemented country: Nicaragua
Title: Portable Sunlight Helps Save the Environment
Light is not a matter of course, at least not in Nicaragua. In villages that are not hooked up to a power grid, portable lamps will now light up households in an environmentally-friendly way. Other benefits of this project are the taking of sustainable energies to rural areas, providing women and children with work and schooling, and protecting the environment.
Many families can’t afford battery powered flashlights and so they are literally left in the dark. Besides, empty batteries are carelessly thrown away and pollute the groundwater and the ocean, which is part of why sea turtle populations are on the decrease. Kerosene, which is more affordable, is very dangerous for children and often accidents result in severe burns.
Portable lamps require six hours of sunlight for completely charging their battery. This meets the needs of the people, many of whom have to work at night because they can make extra money through sewing and weaving, or they have to study for school. The biggest challenge in taking this project to the communities was to design a carrying case for the lamps. The technology was a complete novelty and completely unfamiliar to the rural population – something they had never seen before. But since these lamps not only provide light but can also be used for charging and using cell phones, radios, and other devices via a USB port, they quickly became very popular. They allow for progress and new activities otherwise impossible in the dark.
“'A beau mot, belle chose.' In English: 'To the good word, the beautiful thing.' For me this means that for every thought, every idea, the best thing arising out of that idea must follow."