There is no electricity in several villages in Raja Ampat yet. The fuel for the generators is expensive and only a few have the money to buy a generator. Nowadays, only a few have the money to buy solar panels to install in their houses. The alternative to electric light is fire from candles, wood or most commonly used in the Raja Ampat area: kerosene. The consequences of using kerosene to provide light are terrible: the local people spend around 25% of their earnings on buying fuel for lighting: they die prematurely due to the effects in their lungs of inhaling smoke in their houses; burning accidents are common; and kerosene lighting is the dirtiest way to use fossil fuel (burning a liter of kerosene in a lamp produces 100 times more black carbon soot than the equivalent in a diesel engine).

Papua. Photos credits: Fred Warmer

Due to the advances in solar, battery, and electronics, making solar lamps became the easiest and most practical way to get light.

To promote green awareness in the local communities and prevent accidents, the RARCC made solar lamps and distributed them in some villages. We sold them for a symbolic price because we don’t believe we should give the people everything they need. A better approach is making the local people accountable to make sure they will take good care of what they want and possess. It also helps to create a healthy pride.

With these solar lamps, families can improve their health, not be worried about safety (because there is no risk of burning accidents) anymore, and they can prosper as well. Kerosene savings and increased income afford families the food, clothing and medicine they need.

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