Children, women in Indian villages benefit most from solar lanterns

April 28th, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Govinda Washington, April 28 (IANS) Lanterns powered by solar energy, that are now being promoted in India’s villages as the way out of the electricity shortfall, benefit women and children the most, a new study led by an Indian American has found.
Govindasamy Agoramoorthy from Tajen University and Minna Hsu from the National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan studied the effects of solar lanterns on energy usage, household savings in terms of kerosene and electricity costs, as well as the family’s quality of life.

The women in the households were interviewed a month before and again a month after the introduction of the solar lanterns.

Overall, expenditure on kerosene and electricity dropped significantly in all households after the solar lanterns were introduced. On average each household made savings ranging from $150 to 250 annually.

Whereas both households above and below the poverty level used a similar amount of electricity before the lanterns were introduced, after their introduction households below the poverty level used significantly less electricity than those above the poverty level.

The researchers also found that the solar lanterns particularly benefited schoolchildren and women. Although 70 percent of the villages are connected to the power grid, they do not receive power early in the morning and in the evening because the state power company redirects electricity to major towns and cities, said a Tajen release.

However, with six hours of light supplied daily by the solar lanterns, study hours increased, which had a positive influence on the children’s performance at school.

Women were also able to perform their routine household work both indoors and outdoors during power outages.

The study was published online in the journal Human Ecology.

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