Mama Taa Mulika Mtaa ( Slang for Women of light...lighten up your town)
Derived from three Swahili words, taa, mulika and mtaa meaning light, to brighten up and slang for town respectively, this is an initiative by Integrated Development Africa Program (IDAP), a Local Non-For-Profit organization working in both Nairobi and Siaya currently with is headquarters in Siaya County. Faced with the alarming reality of absence of electric energy and the fact that Siaya county has not been able to tap into reusable energy (RE) IDAP hopes to bring into light and begin a small grass-root movement with the help of women groups in the region to act as a BEST practice on how solar can change the lives of a community and thus a country and a continent.
Siaya County has inadequate power supply and due to poverty levels in Western Kenya averaging 54%, many families rely on paraffin for lighting. Kerosene lamps which are currently in use produce smoke that is very unhealthy. The cost of the kerosene itself is very expensive and children often miss out on completing school assignments or homework due to the inability of the household to purchase paraffin. Houses have burned down in some communities in the district due to the kerosene lamps being left on for long periods and many lives have been lost as a result. It has been the norm that when electricity goes out in Siaya, then everything is at a stand-still, the town gets dark (TOTALLY) at night with social evils associated with darkness mostly happening then (rape and sexually related evils, drug use and abuse, stealing and looting of businesses).Women and girls bear the brunt since they are the most affected lot. Women in rural Siaya experience great difficulty in accessing reliable sources of energy for domestic use. Tree cutting is on the rise, leading to desertification and environmental degradation. This reality combined with the health hazards posed by the use of kerosene lamps means that identifying renewable sources of energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development in rural areas.
The Mama taa, Mulika Mtaa Initiative is a project that will work to address the lighting needs of rural families and schools in the community who conduct lessons for children during the evening hours. Children, both within households and in school settings, will be able to make use of the solar lights to study. 52% of Siaya district's population lives below the poverty line. The money and time families will save through the purchase of clean solar powered lights can be utilized instead to meet basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and education. The provision of solar powered lights will also eliminate health hazards and the expenses that are associated with kerosene lighting.
IDAP hopes to pilot with 4 women groups within Siaya, to begin a project where these women groups bring about the change in perception and stereo types about solar energy. Through technology loans, the women will be provided with a livelihood opportunity to help meet the basic needs of their families. The solar lights will also help lower family dependence on kerosene lamps thus reducing the health risks associated with their usage. The women targeted will be trained in entrepreneurship skills and distributed solar lights in the form of a loan to sell to other community members at affordable prices. 1000 vulnerable women and their school going children in rural areas will benefit from this effort. This will be in the 1st phase of the project.
We believe that 200 families will directly benefit from the lighting. With an average of 4 individuals per household, we approximate that 6000 persons will directly benefit from solar light usage.
About the beneficiaries.
The district is projected to have a total population of 900,000 in 2010. With an estimated 140,000 households, and just over half living below the poverty line, we are looking to build partnerships that will work to turn our dream of lighting up the villages of Siaya into a reality.
In the future, the organization will look to light up all rural homes in Siaya County. We intend to use the proceeds from the initial sale of the solar lights to recover some of the costs highlighted in the budget below. We also want the pilot to serve as an opportunity to undertake a rapid assessment to gauge the market, learn from the users of the products, and develop a proposal to scale up the activities and operate a self-sustaining wing of IDAP that supports lighting up communities and other related activities.