Janet Yiamoi Nkuya launched the Lighting Manyattas Initiative to reduce energy poverty with safe, affordable and sustainable energy solutions. The majority of Kenyan homes are not connected to the electric grid, and many households rely on costly and polluting kerosene instead. The initiative provides solar-powered lamps to pastoral communities in Kenya who live in Manyattas (village huts) to reduce air pollution, protecting both the climate and public health, and to promote education. Solar-powered light enables students to read at night, which encourages them to stay in school.
Janet has employed a business-driven approach, as the first phase of the initiative consists of donating solar lamps to a few households so they can serve as catalysts to get the community interested and raise awareness of the product’s benefits. The initiative also identifies an energy entrepreneur in each village to receive business and skills training, provide ongoing program support to the community and promote capacity building.
Coming from a pastoral Manyatta community has aided the success of the initiative, according to Janet, as she is better able to understand the communities and the residents are more open-minded to her. Moreover, she believes it is essential to spend significant time in the community to ensure smooth implementation when introducing something new to a community. The biggest challenge has been a lack of time and resources, as Janet started the initiative as a part-time job to contribute to the community. Nonetheless, the initiative has already seen success in distributing the lamps, with 470 already in circulation in four counties and plans to scale up to 5,000 lamps by the end of 2018.
Case study written by Isabelle Rui, based on an interview with Janet Yiamoi Nkuya, founder of Lighting Manyattas, and by research provided by Friedericke Eichhorn and Sander Chan at the German Development Institute (DIE).
Image: Children study using one of the Lighting Manyattas Initiatives’s solar-powered lamps. Image courtesy of Lighting Manyattas.