In October 2014, a team from The Light Foundation traveled to Malawi to meet with clinicians, community elders, and beneficiaries to assess the lighting needs of medical clinics, schools and orphanages in villages located along the shores of Lake Malawi.
The aim of the Malawi trip was to strengthen partnerships with people on the ground there, to trial new solar products, begin a pilot program, and undertake preliminary steps to establish a women's economic development initiative.
New Solar Products
We kicked off a pilot program in two regions, working with the Malawi Children's Village to:
- provide lights for schools, allowing more flexible learning times
- provide lights for communal learning areas
- provide lights for home, allowing children to do homework
- provide charge for electronic learning devices
Economic Development Initiative
The team also established a partner for an economic development initiative to train women to become solar entrepreneurs and explore micro business opportunities.
Malawi is a landlocked country about the size of Pennsylvania, USA. Located in southeast Africa, it is surrounded by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania. Lake Malawi, formerly Lake Nyasa, occupies most of the country's eastern border. The north-south Rift Valley is flanked by mountain ranges and high plateau areas. The population is roughly 17 million, with 820,000 living in the capital of Lilongwe. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with 53% of the population living below the poverty line. The average wage is 90 cents per day.
According to The United Nations Foundation, only 8.1% of the population has access to electricity, equating to 91.9% of the population being classified as off-grid. More than 90% of the population uses either wood or charcoal for cooking, leading to high rates of respiratory illness due to indoor pollution.