Around 25,000 low-income homes in the Philippines have been lit up after the launch of a scheme, six months ago, to fit sunlight-powered â€œbulbsâ€ made from old plastic bottles, “A Liter of Light” or “Isang litrong liwanag”.
A Liter of Light project was launched by the My Shelter Foundation, a Philippines-based NGO which aims to provide light to 1 million of the roughly 12 million homes who are either still without light or live on the threshold of having their electricity shut down.
Roughly 40% of the population lives off less than $2 a day, the rising cost of power leaves many unable to afford electricity. Some use candles as a light source, but when generations of family members share a small, dark space in shanty towns, accidental and destructive fires are often the result.
The scheme uses plastic bottles filled with a solution of bleached water, installed into holes made in shanty townsâ€™ corrugated iron roofs, which then refracts the equivalent of 55W of sunlight into the room â€“ during the day, at least. It takes five minutes to make, and using a hammer, rivet, metal sheets, sandpaper and epoxy, it costs $1 to produce.
With the help of a group of MIT students, the solar bulb used in the Philippines has been modified to meet local needs. A cheap kind of one-way lock using metal sheet was introduced for the solar bulb, this keeps the bottle from slipping down and the holes orÂ socketsÂ waterproof, even if the roof contracts or expands with the heat.
The programme is also creating jobs. What began with teaching and contracting one unemployed man to make the first 1000 bottles has evolved into an ongoing program that has creating more than 20 jobs in installing the bottles.