May 30, 2018

In many low-income regions and in communities recovering from disasters, electricity is limited or completely inaccessible. Lighting sources like kerosene lanterns and open-flame candles create dangerous environments for the families who use them. Given the fire hazard that fuel-based lighting poses to vulnerable families, solar lanterns can be a life-saving lighting alternative for communities already struggling.

ShelterBox in Dominica with Solar Lanterns Reducing Fire HazardSolar lanterns help make temporary shelters fire safe after disasters

The scope of this problem is hard to grasp without the numbers: More than 200,000 people are injured by, or lose property in fires caused by kerosene lanterns in South Africa each year. In Sri Lanka, kerosene fuel accounts for around 40% of all burn cases. Children tend to be disproportionately affected by burn-related injuries; in one study in Bangladesh, over 60% of all burn victims of kerosene lamps or candles were under the age of 9. (More on the effects of lighting inequity here).

For victims of natural disaster and those fleeing war, shelters are more likely to be flammable and insecure. If these families are forced to rely on candles or kerosene for light, their insecure shelter becomes an even greater risk for the safety of their family. In Lebanon, LuminAID solar lantern have been distributed to Syrian refugees living in makeshift or temporary structures. With safe light, parents don't have to decide between the safety of their children and completing basic tasks after dark. 

Fire risk for refugees is a widespread problem. One study found that, according to modest estimates, over 380,000 refugees and displaced persons in humanitarian camps were left without shelter following tent fires between 1990-2015. These incidents have been increasing in rate and frequency in the past several years, with more refugees left homeless, injured, or killed from fires in humanitarian camps.

LuminAID solar lanterns are being distributed to refugees of the Syrian crisis as well as the Ronigyah crisis. With partners such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), and ShelterBox LuminAID has been able to get safe light to tens of thousands of families living in temporary shelters. 

Solar lanterns for humanitarian aid

 A family in the British Virgin Islands work on homework with a PackLite Max Phone Charger

Solar lanterns offer a safe and portable alternative to fire-based light sources. LuminAID solar lights are designed to be easy to use, a useful tool to have in informal settlements where existing infrastructure is limited. With safe light, families have one fewer concern, and have an opportunity to find comfort after dark. 



Kazerooni Y, et al. Fires in refugee and displaced persons settlements: The current situation and opportunities to improve fire prevention and control. Burns (2016),

Mills, Evan. “Health Impacts of Fuel-based Lighting. Proceedings of 3rd International Off-Grid Lighting Conference, Dakar, Senegal. October 16, 2012. Accessed June 19, 2017.

Mills, Evan. "Identifying and reducing the health and safety impacts of fuel-based lighting."Energy for Sustainable Development 30 (May 2, 2015): 39-50.


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