Project Chirag

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Introduction

Nearly 240 million Indians in around 18,000 villages currently do not have access to any form of electricity. Headquartered in Mumbai, Project Chirag, currently implements solar lighting projects in rural areas across 7 states in India to address this very problem. 

Impact

4th November 2018


Diwali is the festival of lights.

And this Diwali, One Kind Act has partnered with Project Chirag to bring in Diwali cheer to 16 villages in Palghar district, Maharashtra in a very different way.

Yes, these are the "dark" villages where there is no access to power.

When Project Chirag provides its solar energy solutions to these villages, villagers would be able to walk around after dusk without fearing a scorpion or snake bite.

And women would be able to cook, without inhaling noxious smoke.

And children will be able to study after sunset and transform their future. And play around in open spaces without fearing bites.

They can do the things we take for granted.

This November and December we are ensuring that Diwali -the festival of Lights never ends for these villagers.

And every supporter (or donor) who has helped us can feel the warm glow of satisfaction that comes when you bring light into the lives of people.

Thank you for joining us in our mission of Spreading Light, transforming lives!


A grant of £9100 would provide for 2 solar streetlights for 16 villages – 32 streetlights 


16th October 2017 

A grant of £5,600 would provide 2 solar lamps to each of 150 households in a rural village of Barmer (the third largest district in Rajasthan, occupying over 28,000 square kilometres and the most backward of this colourful state) who have absolutely no access to electricity and use kerosene that is detrimental to their health and gives poor quality light.


Update - Grant Provided by One Kind Act   28th October 2018

A grant of £9100 was made to provide 2 solar lamps to 16 villages in the Palghar district, Maharashtra


Update - Grant Provided by One Kind Act   16th October 2017

A grant of £5,600 was made to provide 2 solar lamps to each of 150 households in a rural village of Barmer, Rajasthan.


Details

To gain a deeper understanding into the challenges and problems faced by rural India due to lack of electricity, Project Chirag has carried out a detailed assessment of the same across villages. Based on the assessment carried out, it has been concluded that the lack of access to light has a 360-degree impact on the lives of rural India. The following points indicate the need for the project:

Health

  • Kerosene lamps, used by villagers for light emit high levels of carbon dioxide causing air pollution higher than WHO guidelines. The inhalation of these toxic gases is detrimental to the health of the rural population.
  • Due to inadequate light, villagers end up consuming several small insects and flies which result in villagers suffering from illnesses. 
Problems due to kerosene usage

  • Villagers buy around 5-6 litres of kerosene per month for lighting kerosene lamps. The kerosene is to be available to them at a subsidized rate of Rs. 10 – Rs.14 per litre through Government’s Public Distribution System, but due to leakages in the system, they are forced to buy it at an increased price of Rs. 40-50 per litre. Thereby, every rural household spends a significant amount of their annual income on kerosene.
  • Kerosene lamps presently used by villagers emit poor quality of light. Hence, one kerosene lamp is not enough to light up the entire home, keeping parts of the home in darkness. 
  • There is existing danger of burning kerosene lamps overturning and drinking of stored kerosene by children. This has even been responsible for deaths in some cases.

Education

  • The lack of electricity and light and the high costs of kerosene enable most households to afford only one lamp. This lamp is used for cooking and other basic household chores. Thus, students are unable to study post sunset, which in turn impacts academic results.

Lack of social security

  • Due to the lack of light, venturing out of the house becomes a challenge for villagers. There have been innumerable instances of snake bites owing to villagers encountering and stamping on snakes in the dark.
  • Farmers are unable to prevent wild boars and stray cattle from encroaching fields during the night due the inability to survey these fields in the dark. This is results in a loss of agricultural productivity.
  • There have been several instances of women being sexually abused when they move out in the darkness post sunset for sanitation or other reasons.

Livelihood

  • Lack of light results in the loss of productive working hours as the villagers are forced to stop work and return home at dusk.
  • Shopkeepers find it difficult to cater to customer requirements after sunset due to lack of adequate lighting in the shop.

Mobile phone

  • Villagers often must travel several kilometres to a nearby village that may have electricity to charge their phones. Further they pay anywhere between Rs.5-10 every 3-4 days to charge their phones. 


OUR SOLUTION

Our team has conducted assessments to understand what type of solutions work best in remote villages without electricity. Several leading practitioners have been consulted as a part of the process and technology solutions have been devised. After due consultation, it was decided to provide 2 solar lights to each rural household which has no access to any form of electricity by the Government. We have hereby listed several considerations in our decision to do so:

UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY NEEDS

Each rural household in India has an average of 5-7 family members. There are several out of-home activities like catering to sanitation requirements, collection of water early in the morning or late evening, surveying agricultural fields after dark or reaching out to medical facilities in case of health emergencies. To carry out these activities, members of the home carry a light along with them. If a single solar light is provided to each house, the house tends to return to a state of darkness the moment a member steps out for any one of these activities. 

A QUALITATIVE APPROACH

After understanding the community needs, Project Chirag with its vision to provide ‘Light for all’, decided to adopt a qualitative rather than a quantitative approach. It was decided to provide two solar lights instead of just one, so that when a member of the rural home left for out of home chores the house continued to remain illuminated. In doing so, Project Chirag feels that it will be successful in lighting up not only a life but an entire household.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Project Chirag provides each rural household with 2 solar lights powered by solar panels - one is a larger solar light which is used for indoor household activities and the second one is a portable solar lantern which can be used by villagers both indoors and outdoors. One of the solar lights has the provision of an in-built mobile charging facility which enables villagers to charge their mobile phones. Careful technical due-diligence is carried out on all products that we use across the country to meet highest standards of quality benchmarks for our beneficiaries to ensure long term impact.

PROJECT IMPACT

The solar lights provided have a 360-degree impact on the lives of the beneficiaries. We believe that it is not just a physical light that we are providing these villagers, but a spark which will put into motion an entire socio-economic revolution in the villages.

  • ENERGY ACCESS: Sustainable source of reliable lighting throughout the year
  • EDUCATION: Children would be able to study post sunset and achieve better grades and results
  • ENVIRONMENT: Impact on environment due to lack of emission of CO2 which is emitted by Kerosene Lanterns
  • LIVELIHOOD: Farmers can survey their fields at night and prevent economic damage to their crops by cattle intrusion. Shopkeepers can keep their shops open for longer into the night and earn additional income.
  • HOUSEHOLD CHORES: Women can cook fresh food post sunset which otherwise was not possible
  • HEALTH: Villagers do not need to consume the smoke from kerosene lanterns thus impacting their healthcare.
  • KEROSENE USAGE: Complete reduction in usage of kerosene which is not only expensive, but also has poor light quality
  • OUTDOOR MOBILITY: Villagers can now move out of their houses post sunset for various purposes
  • SOCIAL SECURITY: Women would have a sense of social security when they move out with lights post evening
  • MOBILE CHARGING: Villagers do not need to travel to far-away places to charge their mobile phones and do the same at home.
  • ADDITIONAL WORK HOURS: Productive working hours created at night which can be used for income generating activities.


THE AREA

Barmer is the third largest district in Rajasthan, occupying over 28,000 square kilometres, and the most backward of this colourful state. Located in the western part of Rajasthan, the majority of the district has vast sand covered tract that stretches for miles on end and forms part of the Thar Desert sharing a border with Pakistan to the west. The region is known for its dryness, extreme temperatures, and erratic rainfall. Most of the population at a striking 93%, are rural inhabitants, majority of which live below the poverty line with only 53.6% of these families have electricity access. Life for these families is a struggle; agriculture which is the main source of livelihood in rural India is an unattractive proposition due to the frequent droughts that plague the area, the inhospitable terrain, and the lack of irrigation facilities. With no industry around, the only sources of livelihood are animal husbandry, the traditional craft of patchwork and mirror embroidery practiced by the women of the area. 

OUR PARTNERS & BENEFICIARIES

Our partner organization aims at working towards the empowerment of women artisans, the beneficiaries of our solar lights, through the formation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs). Traditional techniques of Applique’s & patchwork are used to develop the products, as per the demands of the urban market. They set up a network of artisans through the formation of SHGs. These artisans are trained and equipped in developing high quality products. The organization also has an in-house workshop for training and skill development of artisans and new design development. The profits earned are used in community development work.

PROJECT BUDGET

Completely off-Grid Villages

  • Villages that have absolutely no connection to the electricity grid and use kerosene as their main source of lighting. 
  • Cost of providing a Solar home lighting system (2 solar lights per household with mobile charger) is just over £30 per home.



About One Kind Act

One Kind Act Change Communities and lives of others globally who suffer as a result of Poverty of Health, Nutrition and Education and may have Fallen Through The Net of the larger charities. Learn More here



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