Thanks to the innovation of the solar bottle, lights are no longer being an issue in Kibera homes.
Kibera is Africa’s largest slum and like many slums, the residential dwellings are simple; made of mud walls and a mabati tin roof. Few have windows and access to electricity is often difficult leaving many of the dwellings dimly lit. This makes everyday living and even education difficult for its residents.
Maurice Otieno, the founder and Engineer of C.O.V.I.T (Solar Bottles), sought to make things easier for him and others living in Kibera: “We make solar bottles for people who don’t have power in their homes or for people who have lights but no windows. People who need to be able to switch on their lights to work. So that’s why we came up with the solar lights.”
The process is simple and recycles old plastic bottles. A round hole is made in the roof and the bottle inserted with its top sticking out. When sunlight hits the bottle, the water reflects it down into the house. Bleach is added to the water to keep it clean.
To make the solar bottles you take a plastic bottle and measure the circumference of the bottle With a marker pen mouth the circumference on an iron sheet and cut a hole then put the bottle inside and add silicon. The silicon is left to dry for one or two minutes. Lastly, add the water and then the bleach.
The local schools too have become beneficiaries of the solar bottles and this has had a huge effect on the performance of the students. Kibera’s residents are much happier people with the advent of the solar bottles as they no longer have to struggle to see. It is an affordable alternative as at only 250 shillings and the residents are able to stay in their houses at night.
As well as lighting up the home, there is an environmental benefit; through the process of recycling the bottles the environment is kept clean. With results like this available for all to see the demand for the solar bottles is increasing.
The project has installed more than 7500 bottles in Kibera and extended to Changamwe, Mombasa.