“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
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Sunday, July 31, 2011

US, UN Leaders Condemn Syrian Assault on Hama

Voice of America, July 31, 2011


Lebanese activists carry candles during a candle vigil in support of the
Syrian people in Beirut, Lebanon, July 31, 2011. (Photo: AP)

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is "appalled" by Syria's use of violence against its own people, after rights activists said an army attack on the central city of Hama killed at least 80 people.

The White House released a statement Sunday that the "horrifying" reports out of Hama are demonstrating the "true character" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.  Obama vowed the United States would increase pressure on Assad and work with others to isolate the Syrian government.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Syrian government to halt the use of force against its citizens immediately and respect their human rights.

A U.S. embassy official in Syria also condemned Sunday's attacks in Hama, calling it "warfare" against the Syrian people.

France too condemned the attack.

In addition to criticizing the assault, former Lebanese President Saad Hariri said "silence on the international and Arab levels" about the situation in Syria was only leading to the loss of more Syrian lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



Friday, July 29, 2011

Scent of Arab Spring in Israel

RT.com, 29 July, 2011



Israelis march in the centre of Tel Aviv on July 25, 2011, to protest
 against rising housing prices and social inequalities in the Jewish state
 (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)


Tens of thousands are taking part in nationwide mass protests in Israel to demand the government provide cheaper housing and lower the cost of living. The biggest protest yet, centered in Tel-Aviv, is planned for Saturday night.

On July 25, 30,000 people marched through Tel-Aviv demanding a decrease in housing prices. Some of them were carrying banners reading “Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu.”  Police arrested 42 activists – an unprecedented case for Israel.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to postpone visit to Poland due to the housing crisis in Israel.

On Thursday in 12 towns of Israel a “baby carriage parade” was held: parents of small children have been demanding creation of state-sponsored kindergartens and control over child goods pricing policies.

In Tel-Aviv, on the Rothschild Boulevard, people have been living in tents for weeks now protesting against expensive housing. Tent camps have been set up in various Israeli cities by students.

New rallies are expected this weekend in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities.

Israel is changing in the most inspiring and uplifting way in unprecedented wave of demonstration throughout the country and it is only the beginning of the process emerging in Israel, believes Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

“People are demanding social justice on a broad variety of issues, including housing, but also health, employment and qualities of society in general,” he said.

What has begun in Israel is a very arrogant response to the Arab Spring protests which inspired Israeli protesters with a sense of “people power”, that “the country belongs to the people, and the people are rejecting economic disparities in the senseless privatization that we have seen over the last 15 years in this [Israel] country.”

Much of the criticism has been targeted at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it was not just the last two years of his cabinet that has put the Israel into the current economic situation – though the current government might have pushed it to the extreme.

Palestinian-Israeli journalist Aziz Abu Sarah agrees there is a strong connection between the present protests in Israel and the chain of revolutions across the Arab states.

“People in Israel, just like everywhere else, saw that people… can make a difference, can make a change,” he told RT. “They were using the same rhythm, the same chants almost that in Egypt people used. So, you can see a lot of parallels.”

The journalist points out that the way the protests started is almost identical to what occurred in Egypt, Tunisia and other places:

“[It] started through Facebook, through social media – that’s how people organized completely in the beginning by young people in Israel, students, people who feel that they have no future, people who feel that they can’t afford living here. So, there are a lot of parallels and things that people, the young in Israel are learning from the protests that happened in Egypt.”


An Israeli police officer arrests an activist during protests
against the cost of living in Israel.
Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP


The ultra-Orthodox make up 10 percent of Israel’s population of 7.5 million,
but are increasing rapidly amid a growing backlash to the privileges and
subsidies long granted to the ultra-religious. (Rina Castelnuovo for The New
York Times
)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kenyans donate $200,000 by text for drought victims

BBC News, 28 July 2011

East Africa hunger crisis 

Kenyans have donated nearly $200,000 (£122,000) via mobile phone banking for aid to victims of the worst drought in the region in 60 years.

About half of Kenya's population has a mobile phone
The BBC's Noel Mwakugu in the capital, Nairobi, says the money has been raised in the first 12 hours of an appeal launched by leading businesses.

Many people have accused the Kenyan government of handling the food crisis badly, he says.

But the government insists it is doing its best to help drought victims.

The appeal - involving mobile phone company Safaricom, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper and Kenya Commercial Bank - is intended to raise $5.4m.

The companies have urged the public to do a text transfer of at least 10 US cents into a special bank account.

"No amount is too small to give," Safaricom head Bob Collymore said.

Kenya has about 20 million mobile-phone users - about half the population.

Pastoralists threatened

The money will be administered by the Kenya Red Cross Society to help people worst affected by the drought, our reporter says.

More than four million Kenyans - many of them pastoralists in the north - are threatened by starvation.

On Wednesday, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government had spent $110m on food and other aid to curb hunger.

But many Kenyans are angry with the government, believing it has been slow in rallying aid, our reporter says.

Mr Odinga said the government had also given pastoralists livestock feed to prevent more of their animals from dying.

The drought is affecting more than 10 million in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.

Somalia is hardest hit, with the UN declaring a famine in its Lower Shabelle and Bakool regions

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vodafone under fire for bowing to Egyptian pressure

guardian.co.uk, Juliette Garside, Tuesday 26 July 2011
  • Activists seek protocols to curb use for propaganda
  • Bahrain, Malaysia and China cited as risky states

Vodafone was ordered to cut the signal in certain areas of
Egypt in January. Photograph Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA
Photos

Vodafone Group is to meet human rights campaigners to discuss how it can prevent its networks being hijacked by repressive regimes after it was forced to send out pro-government messages and shut down its network by the Egyptian government during the uprising at the start of the year.

At Vodafone's annual meeting in London on Tuesday, Brett Solomon, director of lobby group Access, asked: "How prepared are you for the future crises that are sure to happen in the 70-odd countries in which you operate?

"Will you ensure that you are both able to protect your staff and the integrity of the network, but not in the position of having to once again shut down the internet or send pro-regime messages to your customers?"

Access named Bahrain, China and Malaysia as areas where telecoms companies should prioritise drawing up clear protocols. Bahrain has seen civil unrest this year and has a history of shutting down mobile services.

Last year SIM card users were forced to register their details. More than 400,000 of those who did not were cut off. Zain, Vodafone's partner in Bahrain, complied with the restrictions.

Along with two other mobile operators, France Telecom and Etisalat, Vodafone was ordered to cut the signal in certain areas of Egypt in January. It claims to have been the first to restore its service, doing so after 24 hours, but access to the internet remained blocked for five days.

Pro-government messages were sent to Vodafone customers during the early days of February, including the following call: "To every mother-father-sister-brother, to every honest citizen preserve this country as the nation is forever."

Outgoing Vodafone chairman Sir John Bond told the annual meeting that Vodafone only holds licences directly with governments in 26 countries, adding: "We have no discretion to negotiate variations. In every case … network operators are subject to similar legal provisions to those used in Egypt earlier this year. Any process to elaborate a new approach to human rights and communications must involve governments as well as industry and NGOs."

Promising the company would meet Access, Bond added: "Respect for human rights forms part of our assessment of any market into which we move our operations."

Access wants telecoms companies to agree crisis protocols with governments. These should ensure users can make emergency calls at all times, that calls and emails are not hacked, that networks are shut down for minutes or hours rather than days and that carriers cannot be used to disseminate propaganda.

Phone and internet companies are frequently forced to choose between protecting freedom of expression and commercial interests. Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, faces a ban in India for refusing to provide access to customers' emails. Google exited China after its servers were attacked to extract confidential information about activists and Pakistan blocked Facebook and YouTube last year.

Gerard Kleisterlee, the former chief executive of German electronics firm Philips, was elected to succeed Bond as chairman. His arrival marks the first time Vodafone's two most senior leaders have been drawn from outside the UK – chief executive Vittorio Colao is Italian.

Colao continued to tread softly on the issue of Vodafone's 45% stake in the US group Verizon Wireless. Some investors are keen for Vodafone to take over the entire company or sell its stake. Verizon has promised to start paying a dividend from 2012, and the two companies are cooperating on joint purchasing and on servicing multinational clients.

"What I see are the tangible benefits of cooperation, working well together," said Colao.

Bond added: "One of the board's major roles is to unlock the value of the investment but that is going to have to be done very, very carefully."

Verizon chief operating officer Lowell McAdam takes over as chief executive next week, and has been working with Colao for the last 18 months to increase joint working. He told analysts last week there were no immediate merger plans.

"We can leverage each other's scale, but I would not send any kind of messages here that something like that's immediately on the horizon."


Related Articles:


Saudi Arabia blocks Amnesty International website

Amnesty International has criticized a proposed anti-terrorist law

CIO.com,John Ribeiro (IDG News Service), 26 July, 2011

Saudi Arabia appears to have blocked the website of human rights organization Amnesty International after it published an analysis that said a proposed anti-terrorist law in the kingdom could be directed against peaceful protests.

Amnesty, which has its international secretariat in London, said in a statement on Monday that its international website had been blocked in Saudi Arabia following the organization's criticism of the draft anti-terror law.

In a message on Twitter, it pointed people to an alternative link to a statement in Arabic on its U.K. site. "Although the Saudi authorities have blocked our main international site, they haven't yet blocked any Amnesty UK site, as far as we know," Amnesty said.

The development highlights the increased regulation of online activity and websites in the kingdom. It frequently blocks websites that are considered critical of the government, or are seen not to adhere to Islamic principles, but this is one of the few occasions when the government has targeted a high-profile organization.

Online censorship is ubiquitous in Saudi Arabia, said Reporters Without Borders in January. A new rule introduced at the beginning of the year further regulates news websites and other online activity, it said. The press freedom organization rates Saudi Arabia along with China, Cuba, and Iran, as one of ten "enemies of the Internet".

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in London said in a statement on Sunday that Amnesty's concerns about the law "are baseless, mere supposition on their part, and completely without foundation". It added that Amnesty had criticized the law without contacting the embassy for clarity or comment.

The statement did not, however, refer to the blocking of the Amnesty website in Saudi Arabia. Authorities in the country were not immediately available for comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Syrian cabinet approves drafting multi-party law

English.news.cn   2011-07-25

DAMASCUS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian cabinet set late Sunday a draft law providing for the enactment of a multi-party law that would allow a political pluralism in a country having been under the Baath party rule for 40 years.

The official SANA news agency said the draft law includes the principals and the terms of how the party would be formed and how to function.

A complete revision of the Syrian constitution, mainly the abrogation of the article providing the Baath party the leader of the state and society, topped the demands of the protesters that have been in streets since mid-March, calling for more freedom and wider reforms.

The Baath party took over power in Syria following a 1963 coup. President Hafez al-Assad, who died in June 2000, came to power seven years later. His son, Bashar, succeeded him in 2000.

Speaking to supporters at the Damascus University, al-Assad announced last month that a national dialogue would start soon and he has been forming a committee to study the constitutional amendments, including one that would open the way for forming political parties other than the ruling Baath party.

'Paranoid Israel sees Gaza flotilla as another attack'



Israel's military have taken control of the last ship from Freedom Flotilla 2 and are convoying it to Israel. Activist Itamar Shapiro, who took part in the last year's deadly flotilla attempt, told RT why Israel feels so threatened by such missions.

RT on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RT_com

Clashes in Egypt continue as protesters vent disillusionment

Deutsche Welle, 24 July 2011  

Protesters have been gathering in
Tahrir Square for weeks
Many in Egypt are dissatisfied with the military transitional government, accusing it of Mubarak-era tactics in suppressing dissent. The most recent clashes in Cairo are evidence that the revolution may not be over.

Hundreds of protesters remained camped out in Tahrir Square in central Cairo on Sunday after a night of violent clashes with supporters of the ruling military transitional government.

Health ministry officials said 231 people were injured when police fired tear gas and protesters loyal to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hurled stones at their rivals during clashes in the Abassaya neighborhood.

Many from the anti-regime group then joined others at Tahrir Square, the center of the mass movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Meanwhile a man was killed and four were wounded on Sunday when police and soldiers exchanged fire with men attacking a police station in the port of Ismailia. At least 50 people reportedly attacked the police station with the goal of freeing a prisoner arrested on theft charges.

Leaders in the military government have accused the protesters in Tahrir Square of sowing instability in Egypt at a time when it is struggling to transition into a more free and democratic society.

'Wedge between the people and the army'

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the SCAF and former defense minister under Mubarak, said in a television address on Saturday that the council would work toward a free system through democratic elections and a new constitution.

Military leader Tantawi has promised
democratic reform
But the military leaders accused the pro-democracy group the April 6 Youth Movement of "driving a wedge between the people and the army."

The April 6 movement, formed over Facebook in solidarity with a planned workers' strike in 2008, released a statement denying the military council's accusations.

"We used to think that the revolution changed matters for the better, but we were filled with sadness after this statement was issued," it said.

The military has come under increasing pressure from Egyptians disillusioned with the results of the anti-Mubarak revolution. The government is accused of rights abuses and using Mubarak-style tactics to quash dissent.

Since July 8, a number of protesters have been camping out in Tahrir Square, demanding that former regime officials be brought to trial, military trials of civilians come to an end and Mubarak officials be ousted from senior government posts.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Ben Knight

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freed Saudi woman driver vows to continue campaign

BBC News, By Michael Buchanan, 21 July 2011

Related Stories 

A Saudi woman whose imprisonment for driving drew global attention to the issue says she is more determined than ever to continue her campaign.

Activist Manal al-Sharif is a computer
security expert and mother of one
Manal al-Sharif, 32, was held for nine days in May after driving in the eastern city of Khobar.

"We won't stop until the first Saudi license is issued to a woman," she told the BBC in her first interview since.

Earlier this week, prosecutors in the city of Jeddah announced they were going to prosecute a woman for driving.

The campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia has gained momentum in recent weeks.

On 17 June, dozens of women took to their cars across the country in open defiance of the ban on driving.

The campaign gained the support of prominent women around the world, including US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

'Positive change'

Manal al-Sharif's imprisonment led to Amnesty International calling for her release.

She said she was surprised by the level of coverage and support she received. "I didn't know the whole world was moved."

More importantly, she said, had been the reaction from women in Saudi Arabia itself.

"Women tell me they are different since 21 May - the day I was arrested. It's a positive change, they believe now. [Driving] is one of our smallest rights. If we fight, we can build women who trust themselves, have belief to get the bigger rights we are fighting for."

Some Saudi women say the authorities have slightly relaxed their attitudes to female drivers, merely cautioning women rather than making them sign a pledge not to do it again.

Jeddah case

Earlier this week, however, prosecutors in Jeddah - on the Red Sea coast - announced they intended to pursue a case against a 35-year-old woman driver.

The woman, who has not been named, claims she had no alternative to driving as she needed to get to hospital and there was no man to take her there.

Zafi Safar from the Women2Drive campaign has spoken to her and said she had told the judge who set her trial date for September that he did not understand the background to her case.

Such setbacks appear not to be deterring many Saudi women from pursuing their campaign.

Manal al-Sharif, one of the organisers of Women2Drive, says they have been contacted by 1,023 women who want to drive - and by 192 women from across the country who are willing to teach them.

They are now looking to recruit volunteers.

"Women want to drive and they are taking actual steps towards that," said Ms Sharif.


Women2Drive is an initiative demanding the right for women
to drive and travel freely in Saudi Arabia.

Related Articles:


Mau Mau torture files were 'guilty secret'

BBC News, 9 May 2011

Related Stories 

Documents revealing the torture of Mau Mau Kenyans directed by the British authorities were a "sort of guilty secret," a report says.

Rounded up: Mau Mau suspects in camps
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the papers should now be made public.

The internal review found some Foreign Office officials had chosen to ignore the documents' existence.

It comes as the High Court is due to rule on a compensation case brought by four Kenyans over alleged human rights abuses in the 1950s and 1960s.

The documents give further details of what ministers in London knew about how the colony was attempting to crush the rebellion that paved the way to independence.

Many of them, which were released by the High Court last month, were only recently found in the Foreign Office's own archives after years of investigations by academics.

The papers were brought to the UK when Kenya became independent but, unlike others, were never made public in the National Archives. Until recently, they were in boxes kept at the Hanslope Park archives near Milton Keynes.

In a written statement released last Thursday, Mr Hague said it was time to make the files public through the National Archives, "subject only to legal exemptions".

'Too difficult'
Former British High Commissioner to Canada Anthony Cary, who conducted the review, found there was confusion about the status of the files, but this only explained the failure up to a point.

But he said that while some officials realised their importance, they chose to "ignore" their existence following three Freedom of Information requests from the Kenyans' lawyers in 2005 and 2006.

Mr Cary said: "It was perhaps convenient to accept the assurances of predecessors that the migrated archives were administrative and/or ephemeral, and did not need to be consulted for the purposes of FOI requests, while also being conscious of the files as a sort of guilty secret, of uncertain status and in the "too difficult" tray."

Adding that officials at the Foreign Office need urgently to review all its documents, he said: "The migrated archives saga reminds us that we cannot turn a blind eye to any of our holdings.

"All information held by the FCO should have been retained by choice rather than inertia, and must be effectively managed from a risk perspective."

'Appalling conditions'

Four Kenyans - three men and one woman aged in their 70s and 80s - are the lead claimants in the reparations case.

They want the UK government to acknowledge responsibility for atrocities committed by local guards in camps administered by the British in the pre-independence era.

The UK says the claim is not valid because of the amount of time since the abuses were alleged to have happened, and that any liability rested with the Kenyan authorities after independence in 1963.

Daniel Leader, counsel for their lawyers Leigh Day, said the report was significant because if the High Court ruled the British government was liable, it could not legitimately claim there was a time lag because it withheld crucial documents needed by his team.

Historians say the Mau Mau movement helped Kenya achieve independence. But their actions have also been blamed for crimes against white farmers and bloody clashes with British forces throughout the 1950s.

Veterans say they suffered barbaric treatment, including torture, as the British suppressed the rebellion.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission has said 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the crackdown, and 160,000 were detained in appalling conditions.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Syrian TV star joins anti-regime protesters

Mohammed al-Rashi attends funeral of Damascus demonstrators as celebrities pick sides in fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad

Guardian, Nour Ali in Damascus, Monday 18 July 2011

Syrians at a rally backing President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
Celebrities have split for and against the regime.
Photograph: Youssef Badawi/EPA

The Syrian TV star Mohammed al-Rashi has joined Syria's anti-regime demonstrators just days after a group of intellectuals and artists protested in Damascus.

In a video posted online the actor is seen attending a number of funerals in the Damascus neighbourhood of Qaboun, where at least 15 people were shot dead on Friday, the highest number of deaths reported in a single day in the capital since the revolt began four months ago.

Rashi joins a list of stars including the actor Fares al-Heloo who have spoken out against the regime.

On Wednesday 30 of about 200 actors, writers and intellectuals who protested in the Midan neighbourhood of the capital were arrested, including the leading actor May Skaf, film directors Nabil Maleh and Mohammed Malas and writer Rima Fleihan. All have since been released.

But as those fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and those supporting him seek the backing of the rich and famous, many of Syria's celebrities have shown loyalty to the regime.

The singer George Wassouf performed before thousands of people at a pro-regime concert in the central Omawiyeen Square on Sunday evening.

Wassouf, one of Syria's most famous singers who hails from a town in the governorate of Homs, is among a number of stars who have drawn fierce criticism for supporting a regime that continues to crack down brutally on protesters. The concert, described as a show of loyalty to the homeland, started with a minute of silence for the dead.

Others have hedged their bets. The actor Muna Wassif, the mother of the democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid, who runs a blog on Syria's revolution, called in May for an end to the killing and the lifting of sieges on villages but stopped short of calling for the regime to go.

In May a group of international filmmakers signed an online petition denouncing the killing of protesters for making "demands of basic rights and liberties".

Nour Ali is the pseudonym of a journalist in Damascus


Related Article:



Friday, July 15, 2011

Solar lanterns saving lives, lighting up Kenya

CNN News, by Emily Wither for CNN, July 15, 2011

It’s estimated that around a third Kenyans rely on kerosene lamps for
their lighting needs, but Kenyan company Solanterns is on a mission to
replace one million kerosene lanterns with solar-powered ones.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Around 75% of Kenyans rely on kerosene lamps for their lighting needs
  • The smoke from kerosene lamps can lead to the development of respiratory illnesses
  • Solanterns is aiming to replace one million kerosene lanterns with solar-powered ones
  • The company says that each lantern will reduce CO2 emissions by 135 kilograms

(CNN) -- Every evening thousands of children in Kenya sit down and do their homework by kerosene-powered light.

However, the soot emitted from the burning lamps is not only an environmental hazard but the toxic fumes could be causing children serious harm and putting them at risk of respiratory illnesses.

Alice Njeri lives with her two sisters and their children in a suburb of Nairobi called Kayole. She says the indoor pollution can be difficult to live with.

"The Kerosene lamp emits smoke and gives my children eye problems and the smoke can bring them to tears," she said.

The United Nations Environmental Program says that in rural Kenya more women die of smoke-related illnesses than they do of malaria and tuberculosis. This smoke is from cooking and lighting fuels.

The inflammatory agents in kerosene lamps have been linked with everything from cancer to behavioral deficits. The lamps are also a safety risk as they can be easily knocked over and start fires in the home.

According to the CIA World Fact Book only a quarter of households in Kenya have electricity. It's estimated that around a third of Kenyans rely on kerosene lanterns for their lighting needs.

RELATED TOPICS

One company is on a mission to change this and is aiming to replace one million kerosene lanterns with solar-powered ones.

It's an ambitious project but one that the team feel can really make a difference to people living in rural Kenya who do not have access to electricity.

"The solar lights have a huge impact on health, education, productivity and overall improve the quality of people's lives," said Joseph Nganga from Solanterns, an initiative of Renewable Energy Ventures.

Its lanterns cost around $25 and are powered via a solar panel, which charges a lithium ion battery. Solanterns says it has reached over 1,500 households.

This was partly helped by USAID which bought and distributed 500 lanterns around Nairobi.

But the team still has a long way to go if it is to achieve its goal.

"We hope to expand access to solar lanterns through a wider product offering to meet different consumer needs and budgets," Nganga said.

"Critical to achieving our target of replacing one million kerosene lanterns with one million solar lanterns is consumer awareness," he added.

The company says that each lantern will reduce CO2 emissions by 135 kilograms and save 52 liters of kerosene over its lifetime.

This means that as well as the environmental benefits using solar lamps will save families money on fuel.

The organization estimates that over a three-year period families will save $140 in lighting costs, making solar lamps cheaper than kerosene lamps in the long-run.

Leah also lives in Kayole and has a son in his last year at primary school. She said: "With the way life is right now and high fuel prices I couldn't always manage to buy kerosene.

"Sometimes my child has homework that he couldn't do so the lantern has really helped me."

Solar lighting is also being credited with better grades for school children. According to Solantern's research, over half of children living in households with a solar lantern were able to study an extra two hours a night.

"My child's performance is different now because he could not do homework and study at night with the kerosene lamp," Leah added. "He performs much better now."

As well as using her solar lamp in the home, Njeri says that she uses it on her market stall in the evening. Its makers say it can lead to better sales at fruit and vegetable stands as produce is no longer spoiled by fumes from kerosene lamps.

"My kids tell me not to return to the kerosene lantern but to instead bury it," Njeri said.