Wherever I happen to be, I notice light. I see the morning sun as it streams through the windows in our home, waking me up as a new day begins. I observe how it looks at different times of day, reflecting off a surface, casting shadows, or illuminating objects that happen to be in its path.
I catch a final glimpse of it in the evenings as it dips below the trees in our backyard, creating a sherbet colored sky as it says its farewells until another day begins.
As the day’s natural light disappears, my hand reaches for the light switch without even thinking.
But what if when the sun went down, there was no more light until it rose again?
Living in the United States it’s rare for us to not have the power needed to turn on lights when we flip the light switch but a shocking 600 million people in 30 African countries don’t have access to electricity.
We’re lucky that we don’t need to think about electricity unless we suffer a power outage. The unpredictability of when power will be restored as the batteries in our digital devices creep towards red can be anxiety producing especially as perfectly good food in our fridges and freezers start to go bad but that’s nothing compared to what 7 out of 10 Africans face on a daily basis.
The lack of access to electricity and modern energy sources limits economic development, constrains people’s life chances and traps millions in extreme poverty, with a disproportionately negative impact on women and girls in these five ways:
- Poor healthcare: Thirty percent of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa lack electricity, making it impossible to store vaccines and lifesaving drugs, or operate essential medical equipment like incubators and x-ray machines.
- Stifled economic growth: According to survey data of African businesses, reliable energy access is a bigger concern than corruption, lack of access to capital, or sufficiently trained labor.
- Toxic fumes: Each year, more than three million people worldwide die from exposure to the toxic smoke of indoor open fires and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting — more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.
- Limited or no education: Ninety million children in sub-Saharan Africa attend schools that lack electricity. In many places, women and girls are forced to spend hours during the school day hunting for fuel.
- Lack of safety: Without streetlights, telephones, or other means of communication, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence after dark.
Help me #ElectrifyAfrica
While Africa may seem so very far away, we have the power to help by using our voices to sign a petition urging our leaders to support the Electrify Africa Act . Recently reintroduced in the House to help provide electricity to 50 million Africans for the first time at no cost to US taxpayers, the signing of this bill represents a major step in investing to stop energy poverty.
All you need to do is fill out these three fields to sign the petition. It’s that easy.
Because light matters.
Want to get in on the fun? Share your own favorite light-filled image on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and tag it #ElectrifyAfrica and #LightforLight. Bonus points for adding the link to the petition: http://bit.ly/1GStA0E.
Thank you for your support and please follow the rest of the #ElectrifyAfrica #LightForLight blog relay by visiting Luvvie from Awesomely Luvvie as she shares another post (31 one of us are posting and providing a post a day for this cause). For a full list #LightforLight #ElectrifyAfrica blog relay posts, visit this ONE.org post.
No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own. Photographs taken with the Samsung NX1, NX3000, and NX30. All photographs © Leticia Barr, All Rights Reserved.