Case study

Brighter later - Pakistan floods one year on

Solar powered technology funded by UK aid brings light to rural Pakistan

Seeing things in a new light: Marvi demonstrates her UK aid funded technology. Picture: Vicki Francis/DFID

Seeing things in a new light: Marvi demonstrates her UK aid funded technology. Picture: Vicki Francis/DFID

A bright idea

Marvi may not look like an early adopter of the latest technology but, thanks to UK aid, she is reaping the benefits of a very practical gadget - a multi-purpose solar light. 

“I use the solar light for cooking at night,” she explains. “We save money because we had to buy candles and kerosene before. We also use it to charge our mobile phones.”

Power to the people

Yousaf Babar village in rural Sindh province, where Marvi and her 7 children live, has had no electricity since the floods last year, and the villagers have had to spend what little money they had on candles, kerosene oil, and rechargeable torches, instead of food.

As part of the UK’s response to the floods, DFID has provided 12,000 innovative solar light units to people in Yousaf Babar and other villages across southern Pakistan. This is the first time DFID has invested in solar technology as part of the UK’s response to a disaster.

The solar lights cost about £10 per unit and give sustainable, free light for up to 10 hours after each charge, and can last for up to 5 years. The cost is recouped within a couple of months, providing excellent value for money.

Into the light

People who lost their homes after the devastating floods in Pakistan last year had to live in emergency camps and tent cities for months. These camps had no light, and research has shown that abuse on women and children always tends to increase, due in part to no light being available when they go to the toilet after dark. Providing simple solar powered lighting can help tackle this.

Staying in touch

Another benefit to the solar technology is recharging mobile phones, which are vital communication lifelines in rural areas. Landline telephones do not exist in much of rural Pakistan, or were destroyed in the floods, so mobile phones are essential for allowing people forced away from their homes to keep in touch with family and community. The solar light technology provided by UK aid can be adapted to charge people’s mobile phones, helping reunite displaced families and communities, and help people to try to get back to a normal life.

Updates to this page

Published 19 July 2011