Solar Links is working with communities in rural Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi to bring sustainable lighting solutions to subsistence farming households.
Implementation is always led by an existing Community Based Organisation (CBO) with a track record in community development. Projects are undertaken on a community-wide basis in villages which are the most in need, which cannot access on-grid electricity. Community mapping is undertaken at the outset and impact measured on conclusion, after several months’ use of the equipment. A Solar Lighting Village Savings Scheme is established, or expanded, by the CBO, into which households save affordable amounts, which would otherwise be used for the purchase of kerosene for lighting and for phone charging, to repay the costs of the scheme so that it can be rolled on to a further community, as well as establish the practice of saving.
Solar Links raises the funding and purchases home solar lighting systems from Barefoot Power, a social impact business based in Kampala. Selected representatives, usually women, receive training in the systems as Lighting Engineers to oversee proper care and effective use and themselves carry out, or otherwise organise with the local distributor of Barefoot Power products, the maintenance and replacement of parts, when the time comes.
Beneficiaries repay the costs of purchasing and installing the lighting equipment, and managing the project, over a period of 14 months. This also allows for remuneration of the trained engineers for their roles in equipment maintenance, and for further representatives to collect and bank the repayment and savings.