[Voice] Philippines: Lights Providing Support on the Frontlines of Education and Health Care
In 2017, Panasonic donated solar lanterns to Cameroon through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The following is a report received from their local office.
This is Hiroko Konno of the UNDP Cameroon office.
Cameroon in central Africa is a country that has maintained political stability since gaining independence in 1960 while neighboring countries have often faced conflict. However, economic disparity has widened in recent years and while electrification rates in urban areas stand at 96%, rural areas remain at only 23%.
In 2017, we delivered solar lanterns to elementary schools, occupational training schools, and health centers in the northernmost commune of Logone-Birni where poverty rates and unemployment rates are particularly high.
※Past article: "First Donations in Cameroon, Guyana, and Nigeria"
Before solar lanterns, people used the light of wood fire, oil lamps, and candles, which led to constant concern of fire breaking out. Additionally, they had to go and gather firewood within the limited time they had and produce money for fuel despite tight financial circumstances, which made life hard.
However, the arrival of solar lanterns has created "three extras" in the local people's lives. The first is extra money from being able to save on fuel costs. The second is extra time for not having to spend time gathering firewood. Lastly, the third is extra emotional space for not having to worry about fire. As such, solar lanterns have contributed immensely to improving the quality of people's lives.
The health center can now use light at night, which has led to better care for patients. The lanterns are especially helpful when calling on patients living in off-grid areas for medical examinations.
The solar lanterns are also being used at schools when teachers prepare for class and when children study. One teacher was happy to tell us, "Thanks to solar lanterns, I can easily prepare for class even at night and this has led to better quality of learning for the students."
We hope to continue our local research to being you updates on the lives that have changed. Thank you so much.