A Filipino was recently awarded the Sustainia Community Award in Copenhagen, Denmark for his “Liter of Light” (Isang Litrong Liwanag) initiative in the Philippines.
The Sustainia Award is an annual international award given to a solution, technology or project with a significant potential to help build a more sustainable future.
Illac Diaz, a Humphrey Fellowship alumnus in the United States, has founded the MyShelter Foundation, which he used to launch the Liter of Light campaign.
The campaign is a grassroots solar movement that aims to empower the most under-resourced communities through the creation of livelihood programs.
The group trains people from low-income regions to assemble locally sourced, sustainable and affordable solar products.
The campaign is named after a plastic bottle filled with a liter of water and a small amount of bleach. With each bottle inserted through the roof of a house, sunlight, with an intensity of a 55-watt bulb, is refracted.
Volunteers and local entrepreneurs using simple tools and basic carpentry skills can light up their communities for just $2 per solar bottle, according to the Sustainia Guide to 100 Sustainable Solutions.
The nighttime upgrade with a solar panel retails in foreign markets at $10. Built by grassroots entrepreneurs and women’s groups in the Philippines, the cost of finished goods are reduced by 40 percent.
The bulbs are useful to hundreds of millions of families that live in informal housing settlements and have only small windows that limit the amount of sunlight entering their homes.
Liter of Light has grown from one home in Laguna to 350,000 lights in 10 countries in just 20 months. Three hundred and seventy grassroots solar entrepreneurs have been trained at that time, with each entrepreneur servicing an average of 1,100 homes per year. The campaign hopes to reach one million homes by 2015.
The campaign went along the theme of the 2013 Humphrey Fellowship Global Leadership Forum, “Confronting Global Challenges: A Focus on Climate Change.”