Project Lead(s): Rowan Clarke
Globally, more than 1.3 billion people, with many of these living in Africa, lack basic electricity.
Many rely on expensive, polluting and harmful kerosene to light their homes.
Observational and other studies suggest a relationship between indoor air pollution (IAP) and the incidence of a number of serious health problems, such as cancer and respiratory illnesses, including tuberculosis (TB) and pneumonia.
Evidence also implicates IAP in chronic lung inflammation and the increased risk of childhood pneumonia with kerosene lamps, rather than traditional cook stoves being the main contributor to IAP.
This project, which is also funded by Only The Brave (OTB) Diesel foundation, sought to examine the impact of replacing kerosene lamps with low-cost, solar-powered LED lamps, provided to at-risk, marginalized children in rural Rwanda.
Individual LED lights (Nuru Lights, or NLs) were sold below cost at $1.50, with recharging available at a centralized, pedal- and solar-powered recharge station (the POWER Cycle/Octopus Charger) operated by community-run village-level entrepreneurs.
This approach closely mimics the way that kerosene is sold and consumed in the communities.
Nuru’s centralized, energy-generation and distribution system keeps the per-user cost low and ensures faster adoptability, especially by the very poor.
Health and socioeconomic impacts were evaluated using a small-scale randomized controlled trial, combined with additional data from a lower-cost matching/pipeline study.
Five hundred and ten villages, each with approximately 100 households, received the LED lamps.
The most robust finding was an 18% increase in the number of children who shifted from using dirty lighting sources to renewable clean lighting for the purpose of studying.
The study team felt the study period was too short to demonstrate other predicted positive impacts from the approach.
The team also demonstrated the viability of the business/distribution model.
The team has raised over $700,000 USD to carry out a full-scale, Phase II, randomized clinical trial (RCT) from UKAID-DFID (Department For International Development), via the Energia Gender and Energy Program and the International Growth Centre (IGC), which is directed by the University of Oxford and The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The team intends to apply for Transition To Scale (TTS) funding for additional funds, to conduct a large-scale RCT.
The next phase of scale-up will see Nuru establish 2,000 village-level recharging stations in Rwanda over a two-year period (2017 and 2018), with the delivery of 200,000 Nuru lights.