Recently, the first page headlines of local newspapers papers showed a tragedy: A good number of primary school children in Kabarole, whom the parents hoped were safe in a boarding school, had been killed in a terrible fire. The cause of the fire was a candle.
The happening is quite simple to explain: A student tries to catch up with some reading in the dormitory where there is no proper lighting system and falls asleep while reading. The candle she was using to read falls on to the mattress and starts a fire which takes the lives of people who could have contributed so much for the future of Uganda.
This raises a question: Why are we still using candles and paraffin to provide light? We all know it is expensive, unhealthy and sometimes can be fatal. In a report by the World Bank in August 2005 it was revealed that 1.6 million people die every year due to indoor pollution. Africa, Asia and India are the most affected regions. Children are the most likely victims of this poor technology.
I read in the papers that candles sales are soaring. We shall likewise see soon fires becoming more and more common. Is there something we can do?
Yes! There is! The solution is to use Solar Lanterns. These gadgets are reliable products that harvest power from our abundant sun and stores it in a deep-cycle battery. This energy can be used at night for the kids to study, go through their preps and any other activity they engage in after dusk.
How much does it cost? It is a good question! The price of good solar lanterns with panel ranges from sh160,000-270,000 depending on the size of the battery and the hours of lighting it provides (3-8 hours).
I am convinced that my fellow Ugandans can afford that. They just need some awareness and the assurance that the product is good and that for some three years they can forget about buying candles, paraffin or paying electricity bills to have modern lighting system in their homes, schools or shops.
I know of donors who are ready to contribute to schools getting solar power and I also know that our government is committed to provide support to this technology.
Can we just join together and write off this thing of fires due to candles and â€œtadoobasâ€ as a thing of the past? I sincerely think we can!
Why are we still using candles and paraffin?