Foroba Yelen: Portable Solar Lighting and Sustainable Strategies for Remove Malian Villages

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Ashley Hall (1), Boukary Konate (2), Amrita Kulkarni (1)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Royal College of Art & Imperial College London, United Kingdom; 2: Cinzana Connect Villages Association
Section: Sustainability
Page(s): 593-598
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


Foroba Yelen (‘collective light’ in the Malian Bambara language) is a collaboration between staff and students from the Innovation Design Engineering dual masters programme at the Royal College of Art/Imperial College London, Cinzana Connect Villages association and the eLand Foundation to design and build portable solar lights for two remote villages in the Segou region of Mali. Core to the project were a number of sustainable strategies including: social enterprise, off-grid lighting and local manufacture. The aims were to facilitate the generation of new businesses, support education and help maintain the cultural practices of festivals and ceremonies. The meta-level objectives lay in reducing rural-urban migration and supporting agricultural production by increasing the quality and opportunities of everyday village life. The rural-urban migration patterns in Africa are challenging food production, healthcare, cultural practices and education [1,2]. One of the key generators of economic improvement in a largely agricultural economy is the generation of surpluses [3]. As part of a coherent development strategy, increased lighting can allow working late into the night to facilitate economic benefit and social improvement. This paper will report on the project structure, sustainable strategies, challenges that arose, student learning and experiences and discuss methods employed by the globally dispersed project team. Conclusions will present initial findings and feedback from Malian villagers on light usage, rental incomes and educational reflections from participants.

Keywords: Solar, lighting, design, sustainability, social enterprise, Mali


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