A library of a different kind – Madagascar

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Posted 1 week ago

You might be used to going to your local library to pick up books, but what about light? That is exactly what new light libraries, created by British charity SEED Madagascar in conjunction with Solar United Madagascar, are offering.

This month, following fantastic results, sees the light library project, which has built 40 libraries to date, enter its next phase of expansion, looking to create another 60 libraries over the coming year. Built in remote areas across the vast island of  Madagascar for local communities, results show the light libraries have had benefits for education, the environment and income generation, helping highlight, as governments pledge billions to green energy, the impact even small green energy initiatives can have on people’s lives.

Primarily constructed adjoining primary schools, some also built by SEED Madagascar, they may look more like garden sheds than typical libraries, but these little structures are helping alter the lives of those in the local area.

Power is a much needed commodity in Madagascar, which remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with only 8.3% of primary schools having access to electricity, the majority of which are in urban locations.

One thing Madagascar is not short on however is sunlight, enabling this solar project, and others like it, to become established; with initial results very positive.

The concept is simple. Each school has solar panels installed on its roof, these charge power banks, which are then available, alongside LED lights powered by them, to the school and the broader community. These provide light in classrooms (where education if often impacted as a result of limited natural lighting during the day, making reading, writing, and concentrating challenging for students). Teachers are also positively impacted, now having the ability to mark and prepare schoolwork outside of school hours, enhancing their ability to deliver high-quality education.

The power banks and lights are also available to rent to the wider community, giving them access to affordable clean energy to power lights and radios, and charge phones and other electrical devices, at a time and location convenient to them.

This isn’t just a benefit of convenience though, with health, environmental and educational benefits also being realised through the project. SEED Madagascar’s research has revealed that community members typically have to walk several kilometres to access basic electrical services and that kerosene lamps are currently the most common light source used by community members – these lamps provide inadequate lighting, are expensive to use for extended periods, and have negative consequences for users’ health and the environment.

Results show a positive correlation between classroom lighting and academic achievement, with the provision of LED lighting proven to be the best lighting upgrade for a learning environment and improving learning processes.

The schools involved are benefiting in another way too. From the rental of the lamps through the ‘light libraries’ they receive additional income; a portion of which is being placed in an insurance fund for repairs and used for contributions towards school resources.

After such positive initial results, the scheme is now hoping to build on this early success and create further libraries across the region.

As global voices continue to shout about the need for increased green energy to stave off ever rising temperatures, projects like this help highlight green technology’s benefits at a more basic ground level and the incredibly positive impact these can have on people’s lives.

The project has been coordinated within the wider-consortium of Solar United Madagascar, comprised of several charities working across Madagascar. The next step will bring solar electricity to 40 new communities, but it’s going to take support and Solar United Madagascar and SEED Madagascar are currently raising funds to expand the project. To find out more, or to donate, visit https://madagascar.enthuse.com/cf/solar-schools