By Lincoln Rajali Sihotang, Kopernik Project Officer
Since March this year, I have been managing the project Lighting up Rural Philippines implemented in Oriental Mindoro, the Philippines. In partnership with Gelacio I. Yason Foundation Family Farm School (GIYF-FFS), a local NGO based in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, Kopernik purchased 408 units of d.light S10 and S250 for GIYF-FFS to sell to the families in need of clean, affordable and efficient lighting. Funds generated from the sales will be used to purchase more solar lights to establish a sustainable business and also to fund the GIYF-FFS’s community development programs. Kopernik also sent a Fellow Emily McQualter in March this year who has spent 4 months at the project site to help implement and monitor the project. Last June, as part of her assignments, Emily conducted an impact assessment to assess the socio-economic impact of the project. I have summed up below the main results of the impact assessment.
1. Process of the impact assessment
At the time the assessment was conducted, a total of 165 units (88 units of d.light S10 and 77 units of d.light S250) had been sold. The assessment was conducted over a period of one week in two different areas, electrified and off-grid communities. A total of 82 respondents who had purchased d.light solar lights were interviewed. 70% of the respondents lived in the electrified area and these respondents had an average monthly wage of PHP 15,000 or USD 357. The other 30% of the respondents lived in off-grid communities with an average monthly wage of PHP 2,400 or USD 57.
2. Source of lighting prior to purchasing the d.light solar lights
In the electrified areas, the respondents used electricity for 5-6 hours per night. All of these respondents also used other sources of lighting such as kerosene (75%), candles (30%), flashlights (89%) or generators (1%) usually during brownouts which occur regularly. All of the respondents who lived in off-grid communities depended on kerosene light (100%) to meet their lighting needs, although they also used candles (80%) and flashlights (30%). Kerosene light was used for 4-5 hours per night.
3. Frequency and common use of the d.lights solar lights
Of 82 respondents who purchased the d.lights, 67 respondents (82%) used the light every day. Majority of the respondents used the light for a night light (76%), during brownouts (60%) and for studying (43%). Other uses of the light included cooking, walking and eating.
A beneficiary is using the d.light S10 for a night light
4. Changes in households after using the d.light solar lights
The use of d.light solar lights has made significant changes on the respondents’ daily activities. The respondents cited that after the purchase of the d.light they could stay up later to work, children were able to study at night, they had feelings of safety, they could save money and socialize at night as shown in the chart below. The changes observed in off-grid families were even more significant. 80% of them have stopped using kerosene light since the purchase of the d.light.
5. Decrease in monthly spend on fuel and lighting sources
Important changes were observed on monthly spends on fuel and lighting sources in both electrified areas and off-grid communities. In electrified areas, families have reduced their monthly spend on electricity, kerosene, candle and flashlight. Similarly, the families in off-grid communities have been able to save money to purchase kerosene, candle and flashlight after the purchase of the d.light as shown below.
Apart from the impacts shown above, our partner GIYF-FFS has also heard many stories from the families who purchased the d.light about the positive impact the light has made in their life. Below is one story that shows how big the impact a simple technology can make.
“My name is Rose. I am 32 years old, a single mother with two children. I am currently unemployed and live with my father and mother in a small two-roomed house in an off-grid community in Maraska, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro. My mother has been suffering a stroke and now she cannot move the left side of her body. I take care of my children to elementary school and help my father care for my mother. I purchased the d.light S250 to help care for my mother. The light has helped my family immensely. My mother can use the light at night to help her find things in the dark and if she needs any assistance, I can use the d.light. Before, we had to use kerosene light which was very unpleasant”.
It brings me joy every time I see less-advantaged people benefited from our projects and I always look forward to seeing more positive impacts from our projects that bring life-changing technologies to people in the last mile.
You can find the full report of the Impact Assessment below or you can download it here.