Feature article: Solar LED Lantern Project (Deliver lights to non-electricity areas in the world)
1. Corporate Citizenship Activities with the use of Solar LED Lanterns
In the world today, 1.32 billion* people, mainly in developing countries, are still forced to live without reticulated electricity. The CSR&Corporate Citizenship Group has been working on a project in collaboration with international institutions, NPOs and NGOs, etc, to help improve people's lives in areas which have no electricity, by making good use of our energy technology. The Solar LED lantern is one of the products used in this project.
* Quoted from "World Energy Outlook 2011" issued by International Energy Agency (IEA)
Panasonic donated 4,000 solar LED lanterns in March 2011 to disaster stricken areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These three prefectures in the northeast of Japan were temporarily without power, and the afflicted people of the disaster thought very highly of Panasonic for our contribution.
Also in April of the same year, Panasonic donated 1,000 solar LED lanterns to the United Nations Development Program for Tanzania. Those lanterns enable people to study at night and run small businesses, etc, and they are very happy with them.(Photo: Solar LED Lanterns are utilized for children's home work in villages without electricity in Tanzania.)
Furthermore, in March 2012, Panasonic donated 2,000 solar LED lanterns to 15 organizations such as NPOs and NGOs etc, who are working to solve social issues in Cambodia. The Cambodian organization to which Panasonic donated the solar lanterns, sent us feedback on how they are being used and some notable examples are outlined below:
Solar LED Lantern Project (continued)
2. Solar LED Lantern Usage in Cambodia
*Using them for health care field.
The Non-Profit Organization, World Vision Japan, which works on health-care issues in poverty-stricken areas of agricultural districts, reported that solar lanterns enabled them to carry out medical examinations for expectant and nursing mothers and deliver babies, and provide emergency medical care for children during the night at health care centers in villages with no electricity. They quoted the following overjoyed comment from a woman who is close to her due date:
"I am really pleased that a light is on even at night at the health care center. I cannot visit the health care center during the day (as I have to work in the fields). But now I can come to the health care center even at night with a sense of security." (Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, World Vision Japan)
The Non-Profit Organization, Japan Team of Young Human Power, which works with the education sector, mainly on building schools, delivered a message to us from a teacher who prepares classwork for the following day by using a solar LED lantern.
"Until now, I have been using kerosene lamps. On windy days, the kerosene lamp goes out sometimes, and also the light from a kerosene lamp is weak, therefore it was difficult even just to prepare classwork for the following day. However, since starting to use solar LED lanterns, my work is going well and it is now possible for teachers to complete lesson preparation far more quickly. As a result of completing preparation more quickly, we now have time for studying ourselves, to improve teaching methods. Thank you very, very much for your support." (Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, Japan Team of Young Human Power)
*The Non-Profit Organization, Japan Mine Action Service, is working on the removal of anti-personnel land mines as well as building primary schools on the land after the mines have been removed. However, as there is no electricity, it is dark inside the school buildings even during the day. So, they reported that they made a special metal fitting to set up lanterns, and were using the lanterns hanging from the class room ceiling. (Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, Japan Mine Action Service)
*The Non-Profit Organization, ASAC (Association of School Aid in Cambodia) is carrying out literacy education for illiterate adults and lending solar LED lanterns to students as well as building schools and making donations to schools. Comments from students in the literacy classes are reported below:
"We use solar LED lanterns for every purpose in our life as well as studying to become literate. It is very handy as a solar LED lantern can be shifted to the kitchen when cooking a meal. Until now, we have been using car batteries. And it cost money to charge the batteries, and they can't be moved around as they are so heavy. But we can carry solar LED lanterns everywhere and can move them around, which is very handy. Solar LED lanterns have changed our lives so much." (Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, ASAC :Association of School Aid in Cambodia)
Solar LED Lantern Project (continued)
The Public Utility Foundation, School Aid Japan, also runs orphanages and uses solar lanterns in accommodation buildings and study rooms for the orphans. To light the orphanages, an electric generator is used from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, however the generator is switched off at 9:00 pm owing to the cost of fuel, therefore after 9:00 pm, the children were not previously able to do any private study. It is reported that since solar LED lanterns were adopted, children are now able to study after the generator stops at 9:00 pm, therefore the children's school results have improved. (Photo produced by Public Utility Foundation, School Aid Japan)
Solar LED lanterns are also used for breakfast preparation at orphanages. They start making breakfast at 4:00 am, before sunrise. Previously, it was very uneconomical as they were using a lot of fuel to run the generator for making breakfast. However, they say that since adopting solar LED lanterns, fuel costs have been reduced because they do not have to run generators. (Photo produced by Public Utility Foundation, School Aid Japan)
*Using them for small scale business
The Non-Profit Organization, Kamonohashi Project, is running a small business which manufactures traditional craft articles made from rushes, to help women in poor farming villages to become independent. Working in studios where it gets dark even during the day on rainy or cloudy days, as well as in the evening was hard on working women's eyes. They say that adopting solar LED lanterns resolved eye exhaustion caused by working in a dark studio, and so improved work efficiency and accuracy. (Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, Kamonohashi Project)
The Non-Profit Organization, Caring for Young Refugees, reported to us that solar LED lanterns are very helpful at the textile training center which they operate, as solar LED lanterns are used for weaving during night.
As we saw above, solar LED lanterns are utilized effectively in various fields and the users are very happy with them.(Photo produced by Non-Profit Organization, Caring for Young Refugees)
3. Future Prospects
In 2012, toward the 100th Anniversary of our founding, the Corporate Citizenship Group started the 100,000 Solar LED Lanterns Project.
By capitalizing on our company's technologies, solutions and expertise, we will continue to help resolve various social challenges facing local communities without access to electricity in developing countries.