July 7, 2017, by Shirlene Campbell Ritchie
Liter of Light: The journey so far
Victor Udeozor, Project Coordinator for the Liter of Light outreach initiative, recounts his recent visit to Makoko, a slum settlement in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of a charity drive to provide the community with affordable solar powered lighting.
Victor visited Makoko to experience firsthand, the daily struggles faced by residents of the settlement. When asked about his experience, he described it as “organised chaos” – everything in the community seemed to be everywhere! Yet despite this, the residents had a good knowledge of where everything was.
“Nothing prepared me for the visit,” said Victor. The floating slum houses around 250,000 individuals, made up mostly of young residents who are fishermen. The Nigerian government has regularly tried to dismantle Makoko as it is centred on the lagoon in Lagos, which is the biggest city. Despite these efforts however, the community seems to be indestructible.
“The people of Makoko,” said Victor, “are vibrant and happy. Given their enthusiasm, you would think they lived in Venice!” A typical day in the settlement sees half naked little children running around, swimming and rowing boats with great expertise. The women tend to do the cooking, which involves smoking fish in their floating shabbily-built kitchens, while fishermen go about their business in the same lagoon. You will find schoolchildren packed like sardines in open classrooms. In spite of their many hardships, the residents of the community do not want be pitied, instead they want to be shown love.
The driving force behind the Litre of Light Project is to show “sustainable love.” The project will kick off in August when a team of eight students and volunteers from Nigeria will travel to Makoko. The team will spend up to three weeks there working with young students and women teaching them how to assemble and install up to 100 units of durable and affordable solar powered lighting in their homes.
The Liter of Light Project began in its infancy in December 2016. It has now grown into a fully-fledged initiative which is close to fruition. The effort to tackle the problem of sustainable and affordable energy by providing local solutions, will soon become a reality. This innovative attempt is driven by a passionate, committed and hardworking team who have established a strong network of partnerships which promises to leave a long-lasting positive impact on the community of Makoko.
The project team has also designed an updated prototype which can not only produce light, but charge smaller electrical devices like mobile phones as well. This added feature has been supported by key members from the Faculty of Engineering including Dr Arthur Williams, Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering and Solomon Idinyang, a control and instrumentation specialist who came up with the design of the circuit. Solomon was former engineering doctoral student who is now part of the Faculty’s technical team.
A good number of global communities still exist without light and this innovation promises to brighten and change the lives of people in need. “This is just the beginning for the Litre of Light Nigeria,” added Victor. The team does not plan to stop until its main purpose is accomplished, which is to light up the world!
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