The Little Sun Impact: urgent relief for refugees in Niger

May 2017

In October 2016, we responded to an urgent need for emergency relief lights in Niger. We worked with Save the Children Niger to distribute 250 lamps to people fleeing unrest in the Diffa region.

Save the Children has just released a new report measuring the impact of this distribution  for the displaced people in Niger. The statistical evidence brought by these impact reports confirms what we hear from our customers on a daily basis – a simple solar light helps marginalized communities, enhances education and restores dignity for refugees.

The report evaluated the overall lighting situation of the displaced people before the distribution, and then two and six months afterwards. Both reports show very clearly which impacts the lamps have had on the communities in terms of education, well-being and even finances.

Using flashlights costs a lot because I have to buy batteries. Now that I save money from not having to purchase batteries, I can do my work with no investment. I can use the savings and proceeds from this to support my children”, says Atcha Ousman, a displaced woman working as a midwife in Boudouri, Niger.

In refugee camps, the majority of people live with no or limited access to electricity. Without a strong source of light they are afraid to leave their homes after dark, to go to the toilet, for example, as they fear injuring themselves or becoming victims of sexual violence. Women in the camps are particularly affected by this lack of lighting as they are usually the ones managing the household and preparing food after dark.

Save the Children heard first-hand from several midwives in the camps who said that their work had become significantly easier and safer when delivering babies at night: finally they had a reliable, safe and convenient form of light to help bring life into the world. We are happy to know that the first source of light for many babies now in refugee camps is a healthy solar one. The video below shows the story from one such midwife who expresses how a Little Sun lamp has made her work so much easier. The translation is below.

“My name is Ya Falmata Kimé. I am a midwife at the site, Boudouri (for people displaced by Boko Haram-related violence). Three months ago, we received these solar lamps. We have experienced that many things are better than before. This solar lamp gives me the assistance when I need to undertake deliveries at home. On the one hand it makes it easier for me to move from my home to other households at night. On the other hand, this same lamp performs miracles by lighting an entire room despite its small size. Anyway, it makes my midwife work so much easier. As soon as I wear the lamp around my neck, I can easily undertake a childbirth without problems. We are very pleased with the help you have given us,” – Ya Falmata Kimé, a displaced person, working as a midwife.

 

The most striking result is that 100% of the displaced people who received a Little Sun could save money on lighting, as the lamp either partially or fully replaced the usage of kerosene, torches or other expensive and scarce sources of energy. The recipients also responded that the lamp was very easy and reliable to use, with 90% saying that the lamp greatly improved their living conditions and 80% said their feeling of security increased positively and they felt more happy and proud.

Here are two more video interviews from the camps in Niger. As you can see, the quality of the video is very raw – Save the Children had to make do with little resources in order to record this footage. The translations can be found below the videos.

 

 

“My name is Elhadji Aminami. The distribution of this lamp by your organization has been very beneficial for us, our community and for the studies of our children. When we happen to have visitors at night, we use this same lamp to light the space and talk in groups. Midwives also use it to help women give birth. We light it up in our rooms for the whole night until dawn. It’s very easy to recharge and use. Look, just put it on this pottery and let it charge four to five hours in the sun without incurring any expense. Using it is really free.” – Elhadji Aminami, displaced person interviewed above.

“My name is Abacha Laoula. Since we received these solar lamps, we are satisfied with their performance. Children use them to study at night. We also use them to light the room. They make it easier for us to travel when we need to during the night. Before, we spent a lot on purchasing batteries for torches as well as oil lamps. Getting this lamp is a huge ‘ahhh’ of relief in this difficult situation. Thank you!” – Abacha Laoula, displaced person interviewed above.

The videos show clearly that a simple solar light has been shown to restore dignity and safety and bring a far better quality of life after dark to refugees in Niger.

Now, what’s next?

While the beneficiaries expressed their gratefulness for the lamps, they also expressed their wish for the positive impact to be extended to all displaced households.

The latest statistics of the Regional Directorate of the Civil Registry of Diffa (DREC) report the total population of displaced people in Niger is 241, 065, of which 121, 320 are internally displaced persons, along with 150, 386 refugees and 14, 359 returnees. That’s a total of 34, 438 households who need sustainable light (based on an average household of seven).

Despite this pilot project’s success, there is an urgent need to see the level of the distribution increase significantly in order to reach more people. The imposed state of emergency compels families to band together for discussions of urgent community concerns and for creating a common force of protection against possible fires, attacks, and murders. When banding together at night, a safe source of light is essential.

 

For the full impact report, click here.

If you are a humanitarian aid worker or organisation interested in working with Little Sun to bring more urgently-needed solar to these communities, please be in touch with our Director of Humanitarian Accounts, mason@littlesun.com.

Photos:

Samaila Issa Ibrahim for Save the Children Niger.

Displaced people in the region of Diffa, Niger, December 2016.