After the floods hit Malawi, Habitat for Humanity Malawi (HFHM) started providing shelter and its related items to people that had to flee their house. Among others, they distributed 1000 solar lights in the relocation sites in Chikhwawa and Nsanje Districts. The WakaWakas were donated via a Share the Sun-campaign. 1.000 WakaWaka customers decided to donate their WakaWaka to Malawi. Before the distribution of the lights, the beneficiaries were using cooking fires for lighting. They were left in total darkness the moment the fire died out. Kerosene lamps and candles were too expensive and they have massive health and environmental drawbacks.
The goal of the project was to promote the use of cheaper, safer, sustainable lighting and to eliminate the use of kerosine lamps and candles. Each WakaWaka was given to a household with five people on average. This means that about 5.000 people have been reached. Local chiefs and Malawi Red Cross Society have helped distributing the lights. The benificiaries received their WakaWaka upon filling in a form and they got a training on how to use the device.
Two days after distribution the receivers of the WakaWakas were inteviewed about their experiences. They told that due to the different levels of light, the WakaWaka is applicable for different activities. They used their WakaWaka for example for doing homework and for checking children at night. Mrs. Antonio Manuel from Mota Engil site said: “Last night, our neighbor’s wife had a medical problem and the husband was able to take her to the hospital 5km away using the WakaWaka lamp for lighting the way.” The WakaWakas helped the people find their way by night, while protecting them from the potential fire hazard and health risks from inhaling fire smoke. In addition, they help the beneficiaries save money, because they do not need to buy batteries for flashlights anymore. Another positive side effect of the WakaWakas is that they are helping to lure some people who are still living in flood prone areas so that they move to the higher lands.
Reports of newspapers, TV and radio have let the project to be covered by over 2 million people.
Habitat for Humanity Malawi was established in 1986 and aims for improving the living conditions of the poor through various shelter solutions. They do this by building houses for orphans and other vulnerable groups of people. Read more about their mission and methods at http://www.habitat.org/where-we-build/malawi