Solar lighting boost for Samoan villages | Pacific Beat

Solar lighting boost for Samoan villages

Solar lighting boost for Samoan villages

Updated 17 May 2013, 9:51 AEST

There'll soon be light past the end of the power lines in Samoa with a plan to provide solar lighting kits to small isolated villages.

Women in Business and the Apia Rotary club with assistance from Australian Rotary Clubs will provide the kits that have proved successful in Papua New Guinea.

The solar lights will replace people's reliance on kerosene fueled hurricane lamps and cut their weekly expenses.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Robyn O'Dell, Apia Rotary

O'DELL; They're a unique affordable lightweight robust solar light. They're about 9 by 9 centimetres. They can be clicked together to form a panel to make any number of lights for greater expanses of buildings, but mostly I see them having a couple clipped together, going to allow kids to do their homework under very good lighting and read. 
 
This is in line with another wonderful Rotary project that's just about to be completed, where we've delivered 100,000 books to every primary school in Samoa, and also built library shelves. This has been a very ambitious program and we're very excited to have done this. So these solar lights go hand-in-hand with this. Now, they'll be able to read these beautiful new books and we're promoting reading in this country, which is resources, of course, sadly lacking in schools.
 
COONEY: OK. So how is the roll out going to work. Where will it be going and how do you get it out there and I suppose who is funding it?
 
O'DELL: Well, the seed funding did come from Graham Boulder, whose from Sutherland Rotary, who has great plans for in fact, lighting up all of the Pacific. Once we finish our roll out plan, based on the way we've done it, we'll have a set framework for it, how this can be achieved and this can be passed onto other Pacific nations.
 
We work with, one of our organisations we work with is Women in Business. They're a marvellous group of local Samoans, who work closely with farming communities, particularly encouraging organic farming and they have field workers going out everyday and they will be distributing these lights to the working farming families.
 
In that process, they will identify families who are very needy and we hope to fill that gap as well by providing lights for free. But mostly, everyone will pay for it, which is a great thing, because it's a very much a donor handout society, and when people can pay for it they have more a sense of pride in doing that and more proud in the product they have. 
 
They're getting 20 kana, which is about 8 Australian dollars, which is very reasonable, extremely reasonable. As I said the seed funding has come from a consortium of Rotary Clubs in Australia. Graham Boulder, from Sutherland, being the leader on this. 
 
Once we collect all those funds, that will be returned to them they will then repurchase and send to us a new batch of lights to be distributed. So the objective thing or the target being is to provide solar lights to as many households as possible.
 
COONEY; So there is no upper limit on this. As long as people are prepared to take them, provide a fairly minimal payment, it can then be spread out to even more people?
 
O'DELL: Absolutely that's the plan.
 
COONEY; And as you mentioned there, you're doing it in Samoa. You'd like to see this rolled out in I think I mentioned at the start there. It's also proved successful in Papua New Guinea, these kits as well?
 
O'DELL: That's correct. But I believe we are the first in Polynesia to embrace this little product and it will be. I think the cost comparisons are enormous, electricity costs here are very, very expensive. They import, ship in their oil and but you're using cash card prepaid power households here and they might not pay for so many hours and suddenly they'll run out of light, can't afford to pay anymore and then they're in the dark. So it could work, these solar lights then become very much into play. The solar lighting also is in line with government objectives of renewable energy, so it ticks all the boxes, really.
 

Contributors

Campbell Cooney

Campbell Cooney

Correspondent

Campbell joined the ABC in 1997 and has been reporting as Radio Australia’s Pacific Correspondent since 2006.

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