$600,000 Grant to Fund Innovative Energy Solutions in the Slum of Kibera, Kenya

$600,000 Grant to Fund Innovative Energy Solutions in the Slum of Kibera, Kenya
New technology to bring street lighting to 50,000 people living in largest slum in Africa
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2018) – With the financial support of a $600,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, Human Needs Project will bring new street lighting to Kibera and pilot new energy solutions with the Lighting Science Group to improve access to affordable energy for up to 50,000 people living in largest slum in Africa.
Human Needs Project, U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a Kenyan social enterprise, builds sustainable community centers that provide slums with reliable energy solutions, clean drinking water, washing facilities, toilets, and showers, as well as adult education, skills training, micro-lending, and Internet access. Kibera, located in Nairobi, is the largest slum in Africa. Most of Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day. Kibera is prone to a number of shocks and stresses ranging from extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of reliable and affordable energy systems, basic infrastructure, poor and non-existent sanitation facilities, clean drinking water, among many others.
"Slums are like prisons of poverty and it is extremely hard to create the conditions for development and sustainability. But we have seen clear traction and been a part of living change which we have documented by accumulating extensive data about life and services at our Kibera Town Centre,” shared Connie Nielsen, Co-Founder and President, Human Needs Project.
Kibera is in need of innovative energy solutions to mitigate shocks and stresses. Only ~20% of Kibera has electricity. Economic prosperity is highly constrained due to regular brown and black-outs. Many areas of Kibera currently rely on poor quality and unsafe electricity. Wires are spread out like webs over parts of Kibera and electric fires and electrocutions from sparks of live wire are common. People often buy illegal connections from local cartels or often steal power unsafely which can also lead to electrocutions and fires. Human Needs Project is hopeful it can contribute to greater success by contributing its resources to bring innovative energy solutions to Kibera.
In collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation, Human Needs Project will grow its innovation hub in Kibera and build a Public Private Partnership with energy solution technology provider, Lighting Science Group, to light up a mile of solar street lighting through the Kibera neighborhood. The street lights will bring greater levels of safety and security to families, students and workers making their way through the slum in the early mornings and at night. Additionally, the street lights will bring reliable lighting to 400 stores along the most trafficked streets in Kibera with approximately 50,000 people commuting back and forth daily. 
"There exist rare opportunities to deploy technology where a positive consequence can be so profound. With this partnership, we hope not only to improve the safety and conditions for many in poverty but also, create an alternative model for power and appliance distribution suitable for replication at scale once proven,” said Fred Maxik, Founder and CTO of Lighting Science Group.
The illumination of Kibera streets will come from an innovative field-ready solar street lighting system designed and manufactured by Lighting Science Group specifically for challenging environments such as the Kibera slums. The light podiums will, at a later date, have the opportunity to allow for the distribution of secured WiFi for access to information (educational and community updates) as well as a placeholder for cameras for community safety systems.
"We are pleased to support Human Needs Project’s efforts to grow its innovation hub in Kibera and build partnerships that will improve the well-being of people through energy solutions adapted for hard to reach and underserved areas,” said Clare Boland Ross, Associate Director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Power Initiative.
Human Needs Project will also pilot an innovative new DC to DC charging system which can much more efficiently charge small batteries to power lighting and small appliances.
“We will be the hub for charging the Lighting Science Group batteries. Community members will pay a small amount to charge their batteries at the Kibera Town Centre charging station for their household and community needs,” said David Warner, Co-Founder of Human Needs Project. These batteries will power several lights, phone charging and a small radio. Over time the goal will be to scale up the size of the batteries. “If the pilot is successful the long-term goal would be to deploy the system in greater numbers and eventually offer full home kits along with low-cost appliances so that everyone in Kibera has access to electricity,” said Warner.
About Human Needs Project
Human Needs Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a collaborative effort among academic, industry, and local leaders to build resilience in some of the most vulnerable regions of the world and to address the lack of basic services common in slums due to shocks and stresses. Human Needs Project opened the doors to its Kibera Town Centre (KTC) in Kibera in July 2014. The KTC is a locally-driven, high-impact, innovative solution that builds the resilience of tens of thousands of people living in Kibera. Since 2015, the KTC has had 400,000 repeat visitors and has tracked more than 600,000 program and service transactions. Kiberans are utilizing the KTC’s basic human services including clean drinking water, washing facilities, toilets, and showers, as well as adult education, skills training, micro-lending, and internet access.
About Lighting Science Group (LSG):
Lighting Science is a global leader in innovative LED lighting solutions that designs, manufactures and brings to market advanced, intelligent products for consumer and commercial applications. Lighting Science is creating biological, horticultural and urban lighting solutions with products such as GoodNight®, GoodDay®, and Sleepy Baby® LED bulbs and the groundbreaking horticulture light, the GroBar™. Lighting Science has won numerous awards, including several Business Intelligence Group (BIG) Sustainability Awards, Edison Awards, Sapphire Awards, and the IES Illumination Award. For their patented technology products, Lighting Science won Popular Science Magazine’s 2016 Best of What New Award, Architect’s Newspaper Best Products of 2016, and Architectural Record 2016 Product of the Year. They have more than 400 patents to date, and are experimenting with new uses for LEDs ranging from air purification to enhancing vision. Lighting Science is headquartered in Rhode Island, with research and development facilities in Florida.
Press Contact:
Dan Prull
Project Lead, Human Needs Project
The Rockefeller Foundation