In July 2012, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) brought the light of peace and hope to the residents of Molo County in Rift Valley, Kenya by donating 100 solar lamps to students and parents from the Mutate Primary School. Molo has been described as the epicenter of 2007-08 post-election violence in the Rift Valley, and Mutate Primary School was one of the schools most affected.
Access to electricity in Molo remains a widespread challenge, and GPF's All-Lights Village Project provides solar lamps to regions with limited energy access as part of a more comprehensive development strategy that engages community leaders in decision-making and prioritizing of resources.
There are 300 households in Mutate, and phase one of the Project distributed 100 lamps to 100 families. A year later, in July 2013, representatives from GPF and Service for Peace (SFP), a partnering organization, visited the beneficiaries in Mutate Village to observe the effects of the lamps on the community. They found that lamps had a measurable impact in four major areas: health, education, economic livelihood and community cohesion, or safety.
Due to the lack of electricity in Mutate, villagers are forced to use kerosene lamps that emit poisonous gases in their homes, causing asthma and other air-borne diseases. Those with solar lamps have benefited from improved indoor air quality. “The solar lamp has improved my children’s health. My one child has not complained of chest problems for the last seven months,” said Josephine Wanjiru, a mother of two.
“I can’t believe how much change has occurred in the Mutate Village over the last year because of the solar lamps. It is encouraging to see how much the community has been able to accomplish.” —Timothy Gachucha of the Global Peace Foundation Kenya
Education is a basic human right but there are still many people in Mutate who cannot read or write, contributing to a life of poverty and lost opportunity. The solar lanterns helped improve students’ literacy as the light provides extra time for studying in the evenings. “The students can now come for their evening studies in the school, and others study from home,” said Mr. Joseph Kimani, the Deputy Head teacher at Mutate Primary School. “For the first time our school produced six students with over 300 marks in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams while there was only one last year.”
The solar lamps have also improved the economic livelihoods of the residents of the Mutate Village as they no longer need to buy costly kerosene. “Since I received the solar lantern a year ago from the GPF I have not bought kerosene. This enables me to meet other needs of my family.” observed Mr. David Mburu, a resident of Mutate.
Peace and Safety
The All-Lights Village Project has also promoted community cohesion and reconciliation in Mutate as the households with lamps share them with others from differing ethnic backgrounds. “As we continue living in tents, our children share the few lamps available in spite of their ethnic backgrounds, a phenomenon that enhances peace,” echoed Ms. Elizabeth Wangari, a mother of five, with two of her children being schooled in Mutate Primary.
Mutate Village has also become safer as the house and street lamps have helped to curb theft and other illegal activities. “Cattle rustling used to be very rampant in this area but since the solar lamps were introduced theft has reduced, as well as thefts in homes,” said Mutate Assistant Chief of Police Mr. Alex Gachene. He added that with the provision of the two streets lights by GPF, security during the night has been improved.
At the conclusion of the visit, Service for Peace and Global Peace Foundation made a commitment to develop additional programs in Mutate to improve health, education and economic opportunities in the community. These programs will be aimed at strengthening local leadership, and GPF and SFP representatives said they will continue to track the impact of the initiatives on the Molo community.
--Reported by Joey Marakis, Global Peace Foundation Kenya