It is estimated that about 40 percent of Kenyans live in rural areas lacking access to reliable energy – a traditional benchmark that also illustrates social and economic wellbeing. In many of these same communities, children do not regularly attend school, as parents often struggle with the alternative decision to keep their child home to help with family businesses or be paid for other labor. This despite government requirements for children between the ages of 6 and 13 to receive formal education.
The Solar Cow 4 Impact Partnership, led by YOLK and Energy 4 Impact, provides an innovative solution to bring solar power to rural communities in Kenya that lack reliable energy while also providing better opportunity for children to receive an education.
The partnership first provides families with portable batteries, “power milk,” which connect to solar charging stations, “solar cows,” that the partnership also provides to community schools. Thus, families encourage children to go to school in part to charge their batteries – and while the charging occurs, children can attend class.
Before this system was in place, families would spend money on charging batteries using diesel generators and lighting their homes with kerosene, which are both expensive and environmentally detrimental. What’s more, many in these communities often walked for between two to six hours to use the nearest battery charging station. The time and money saved by providing a green alternative to these power sources ultimately equates to financial compensation to parents for sending children to school instead of to a workplace.
In the short-term, Solar Cow 4 Impact improves quality of life by supplying affordable electricity to households. Long-term, this partnership provides an opportunity to break the vicious cycle of poverty through education. The partnership, through each Solar Cow unit, ultimately aims to supply 10W of electricity to 250 homes every day, which can lower household’s expenditure on electricity and kerosene to less than 50% and increase both school enrollment and attendance by five percent.