Let There Be Light
Friendship’s Rural Electrification Project Empowering Lives
There are places in Bangladesh that are so isolated and remote, that some of the things we take for granted like electricity, gas, running water or access to healthcare is completely absent. In Bangladesh an average of 77.9% of the population have access to electricity, and in rural areas it is limited to only 67%. In the remote riverine islands the number is a lot less, and because of the impermanence of these islands, getting them on the regular grid is next to impossible in the near future. Boraibari village, in Bhoghdanga Union, Kurigram is one of such remote places, at the northern reaches of the country.
One of the many interventions that Friendship has in these areas is the provision of solar panels to improve the living conditions of the people in these areas. Mustafa Kamal is a farmer and general store proprietor benefitting from this.
“Friendship’s solar panels are really helping a lot,” he says, “before that I’d have to close shop early and cut my business hours short. A lot worse than that was the kerosene lamps we’d have to use. I’d have to go to market to buy the oil, which in of itself got very expensive, and the path to that is muddy and slippery and dangerous to traverse at night. I’d fallen many times. The lamps themselves would get very smoky and leave soot everywhere and create a mess. What’s more, they were a constant fire hazard. My wife was always afraid her sari would catch fire, and I was afraid my kids’ mosquito nets would set ablaze.”
All that however, is only when he used the lamps. The rest of the time he would live in fear of tripping over himself whilst getting around at night, or even just going to the bathroom. Much worse, there was a constant threat of burglaries. His elderly parents in particular, were really inconvenienced by this lack of light.
“And now that’s all gone,” he says. Both his small shop and his house of 6 people including his parents, wife and 2 children use solar panels provided by Friendship to power LED lights. Now that he has them, he can sit at his store till as late as 2 AM if need be, and his children are able to study late into the night at his house near the Patheshwari Post Office.
“The house looks wonderful. I am planning on getting a few more panels to add fans around the house for the summer months,” he added.
“Friendship has developed a clean, environmentally friendly and low-cost solar panel that powers a lighting system. They operate at the same cost to the user as the kerosene lamp and brings with it other advantages that greatly improve living standards,” says Md. Kamal Uddin, Director of Sustainable Economic Development of Friendship.
Thus far, over 3,075 affordable solar home systems have been installed by Friendship in remote areas of Bangladesh in association with Engie and that number continues to grow. Each of them makes a positive change towards the lives, livelihoods; economic and educational opportunities of the people that they have been provided to.
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