By Erin Roberts, intern at Lifeline Energy.
I’ve been interning at Lifeline Energy for three months and so far it’s been an incredible learning experience. I’ve learned more about how development occurs on the ground in two months than I did in a year of graduate school. When I first started, I knew that much of sub-Saharan Africa was off the grid, but I hadn’t conceptualized what this meant for daily lives. For example, I didn’t realize that millions are still lighting their homes and fueling their stoves with kerosene. Kristine’s blog really highlighted the dangers of kerosene for me as well. Some of the statistics about energy poverty are staggering. The fact that some people are forced to spend 40 to 60 percent of their income on kerosene makes it impossible to break the cycle of poverty. The gender dimensions of energy poverty are also sobering, as is women’s lack of access to information in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, both of which Lifeline Energy addresses.
I was struck by how much the lives of young women were changed simply by having access to solar lights. Access to radio also has a transformative effect on the lives of women and girls. In one report I read, it was revealed that after forming listening groups, Somali women in Kenya’s Dadaab camps began talking about important issues like FGM and gender-based violence, which is the first step to stopping both practices. In fact, some women reported that they had decided not to submit their daughters to FGM because of information they received through the radio broadcasts. It hadn’t occurred to me that something as simple as a radio or a light could change people’s lives so much. It definitely hadn’t occurred to me that my own life would be transformed in the course of three months, but it has.
The team here at Lifeline Energy is amazing. I’ve learned a great deal from each one of them and I would like to thank them for making my time here at Lifeline Energy enjoyable.