How cheap street lights help create safe communities

According to the United Nations, 1.5 billion people around the world have to make do either with very poor quality light or no light at all. There are 1.3 billion who rely on kerosene lamps which emit toxic fumes, causing respiratory illnesses and killing an estimated 1.5 million people each year. A lack of light also stunts education. Children who have to work to earn money for their families during the day can’t study without light in the evenings. Unesco is calling 2015 the International Year of Light in an effort to draw attention to the issue. NGO Liter of Light hasn’t been waiting around to illuminate communities in the developing world, however. Founded in the Philippines in 2011, it uses cheap, open-source technology that can be easily fixed or repaired. So far it has lit up 28,000 homes in Manila alone and many thousands more across the world. Last year it developed solar-powered street lights to brighten public spaces. Its latest project is the neighborhood of San Luis in Bogotá, Columbia, whose 16,000 residents are mostly refugees from the civil war. The absence of public lighting and rampant crime have made its dark alleys a dangerous area for women and girls, many of whom face sexual harassment or worse. “Street lights are the first step in creating a safer community,” in the words of Liter of Light founder Illac Diaz.

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How cheap street lights help create safe communities

According to the United Nations, 1.5 billion people around the world have to make do either with very poor quality light or no light at all. There are 1.3 billion who rely on kerosene lamps which emit toxic fumes, causing respiratory illnesses and killing an estimated 1.5 million people each year. A lack of light also stunts education. Children who have to work to earn money for their families during the day can’t study without light in the evenings. Unesco is calling 2015 the International Year of Light in an effort to draw attention to the issue. NGO Liter of Light hasn’t been waiting around to illuminate communities in the developing world, however. Founded in the Philippines in 2011, it uses cheap, open-source technology that can be easily fixed or repaired. So far it has lit up 28,000 homes in Manila alone and many thousands more across the world. Last year it developed solar-powered street lights to brighten public spaces. Its latest project is the neighborhood of San Luis in Bogotá, Columbia, whose 16,000 residents are mostly refugees from the civil war. The absence of public lighting and rampant crime have made its dark alleys a dangerous area for women and girls, many of whom face sexual harassment or worse. “Street lights are the first step in creating a safer community,” in the words of Liter of Light founder Illac Diaz.

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