Thursday, October 22, 2009


Solar Lantern Microfinance project

In many parts of Uganda, people do not have access to electricity, and many impoverished rural families must rely on kerosene lamps and candles as their only source of light. The cost of of kerosene is increasing every year and families in the Kabonera sub-country typically spend an average of $2 per month for parafin. Recognizing the health, safety and environmental hazards created by kerosene lamps and parafin candles, we are committed to offer communities a safer, more sustainable lighting source for their homes and enterprises.

Uganda SPACE has adopted a holistic approach to improve the lives of the impoverished rural people through the use of renewable energy to power their agricultural projects like poultry, piggery etc. The avoided cost of kerosene and the ability to extend productive working hours in the agricultural project, more so the poultry microfinance project would produce income to pay for the lighting solar lantern systems.

In April 2009, Uganda SPACE began working with volunteers from The Cooper Union, Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture, Materials Manufacturing and Minimalism program on a plan to pilot their a solar lighting system called Socialite that they have had in development and field testing since 200X. Field tests of the system are currently in place in Kenya, Burundi, Ghana and Rwanda. More information about the program can be found at:

To pilot this program, we will be fundraising raising money to purchase 2-3 kits at cost through The Cooper Union at $1,500 each. The system consists of a package of components containing all materials and supplies needed for villagers to construct and maintain their own home grown solar lighting system. Each kit contains the materials to build 50 lanterns and a solar recharge station. The first kit will provide lighting for the Poultry Project and participating women's homes. Remaining lanterns will be built and marketed to neighbors as a means to pilot as a possible microenterprise. Pre and post sales consumer research will be conducted to evaluate the project for future expansion. Students from The Cooper Union will partner with engineering students from Makerere University to design and deliver training to participating women. Five students from Makerere are being recruited by Kasinja to deliver training to participating women in Kyamuyimbwa Village. Professor Toby Cumberbatch from The Cooper Union will be meeting with the management of Uganda Space in Kampala and will be visiting the village site in June 2009 to finalize plans for the pilot, which is slated for December 2009.

Uganda SPACE will distribute the lanterns to rural villages. The villagers will pay an initial amount of the lantern and the rest will be paid in monthly installments for 3 years.

Ecostove Project

The Microfinance Ecostove Project seeks to reduce deforrestration in the rural areas, as well as the amount of time rural women spend collecting fire wood and the unhealthy effects of cooking in smoke filled kitchens. Improved stoves can make cooking with fire easier, faster and safer. Improving the combustion efficiency is necessary to reduce unhealthy smoke and harmful emissions and better heat transfer efficiency can significantly reduce fuel use. To remedy this problem, Uganda SPACE and students from Makerere University have designed an Ecostove suitable for use in rural homes. It includes an enclosed firebox, with insultated walls and a chimney, which increases fuel efficiency and takes smoke out of the kitchen. The wood stoves which can be constructed within the home using earth and bricks at a cost of $10-$40 each and paid for in installments.
Besides offering concrete solutions to the environmental, health and safety concerns of home stoves, Uganda SPACE's Ecostove Project will involve community members in stove production, installation, and advocacy. The program will be promoted by demonstrating the ecostoves in villages and public fairs. We will consult with local community groups to identify women to be trained as a stove technicians and conduct classes in stove construction, repair and maintenance in Uganda SPACE offices. Trained technicians will be contacted by Uganda SPACE to build stoves in the families of rural areas.

The project is presently in the planning and budgeting stage and we are targeting a start date of mid 2010. Engineers from Makerere University have drawn up plans for the ecostoves and we are conducting consumer research on design and affordability. We plan to partner with established manufacturers, such as Ugastove, to train about 20 women to build and maintain stoves for others in their communities by March 2010. With each of the 20 woman building three stoves per month, We aim to built 1,500 ecostoves by the end of 2012 and 2,500 ecostoves by the end of 2015.

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