150 families are testing out a ground-breaking new solar energy system, Solar Seed, and a malaria prevention device, Mosquito Spider, developed by our friends at Africa Power with support from Loughborough University and Arctech Innovations, the first spin-out company from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Almost three years ago, Children of Songea teamed up with Africa Power to explore how a solar energy system could improve living conditions for the children and families supported by the charity. Most families are living in poor housing and have limited or no access to electricity, making it difficult for children to study at home and stay free from malaria.
Children of Songea already provides support with educational resources, access to health care and housing needs. This project builds on this to help create safer homes for learning and living.
Shabani Tindwa, proramme director with Children of Songea said:
We are excited to join hands with Africa Power to enable our families to have access to electricity and greater protection from mosquitoes. This new solar system is truly ground-breaking and will light up children's lives. We are already hearing from children that it will help them study in the evening, something they couldn't do before.
Richard Wallace, senior design engineer at Africa Power, led the design, testing and implementation of solutions to tackle the problems of people having limited access to light and a much higher than average threat of malaria.
“The main challenge was keeping the solutions cheap and making the devices robust enough to survive the conditions in Africa and have a good lifespan. After a long period of design, testing and manufacture, we were finally able to return to Songea to distribute them to families.”
The Solar Seed system has two super high efficiency lights, a solar panel and a control unit, with a port for charging a mobile phone or radio. The Mosquito Spider is a palm-sized device that disperses a tried and tested active ingredient that can last up to 28 days - clinical trials show a 90% reduction in mosquito bites. It can be easily charged using the solar system.
In July, Richard returned to Songea to distribute Solar Seed with the help of their sister company, Kua Solar, based in Tanzania, and volunteers from Children of Songea led by Shabani Tindwa, our programme director.
“I can easily say it was one of the best days of my life. The response from the families, particularly the children was incredible, and I felt truly humbled to be able to part of the team that helped get these devices to them.
“A lot of work still remains, not only with this project, gathering the data about how well it has worked and getting valuable feedback but also to provide continued support for the families. If you can, please help Children of Songea - you wouldn’t believe the difference it makes.”
Our team will be visiting families in the coming months to learn about the difference Solar Seed and the mosquito fan have made to children’s lives. This project was made possible through a generous private donation to Children of Songea.
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