Lifeline Energy

Lifeline Energy is a non-profit social enterprise that provides sustainable information and education access to vulnerable populations. We achieve this by designing, manufacturing and distributing solar and wind-up media players and radios for classroom and group listening. Since 1999, we have distributed more than 500,000 power independent radios to provide on-demand access to information and education, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the years we have received numerous awards including the Tech Museum of Innovation Award, a World Bank Development Marketplace Award and an Index: Design to Improve Life Award. In addition, our founder and CEO Kristine Pearson was named one of TIME magazi...
Jun 5, 2015

Liberia has been declared Ebola-free

Liberia was declared Ebola-free on 9 May by the World Health Organisation, after 42 days of no new cases. People and agencies working on the ground in Liberia, strong government commitment, and good communication efforts all played a key role in eradicating the virus in the country.  

Some of the tragic statistics from Liberia give a sense of the devastation that Ebola wrought:

  • At the peak of transmission in August/September 2014, 300-400 new cases were being reported each week
  • 375 Liberian health workers were infected with Ebola, and 189 lost their lives
  • A total of 10,666 Liberians were infected with Ebola during this outbreak, and 4,806 died

Community radio stations in Liberia played a pivotal role in informing citizens about how to protect themselves, and what to do if they suspected they’d been infected. However, in such a poor country, many people didn’t have access to radios, or could not afford batteries. Our Polaris solar radios allowed people to hear the news and information, without having to worry about the cost of batteries or electricity. The integrated flashlight allowed them to see at night.

With Liberia’s status as an Ebola-free zone, this will be our final report on this project. We have been asked for help with radios in Sierra Leone, and further donations for Ebola will be used for this new project. We will be working with Develop Africa, on their project to help pregnant teenage girls continue with their education, by providing a networked computer lab, with access to both curriculum materials, video tutorials and coaching support, as well as supporting girls learning from home.  Our radios will be used as part of this initiative.

We are committed to ensuring that our donors have a meaningful giving experience. If you are not satisfied with the donations being used for our Sierra Leone project, GlobalGiving will refund your donation in the form of a gift certificate equal to the value of the original donation, which you are invited to contribute to another project on the site. If you have any questions or if you would like to reallocate your donation to another GlobalGiving project, please contact GlobalGiving by following this link: https://www.globalgiving.org/contactus/

We would like to thank you for your donations to a country faced with a terrifying and devastating virus. Your donation made an impact, not only in terms of allowing people to hear important information that helped keep them informed, but to provide the comfort of hearing trusted voices on the radio.

May 4, 2015

Our Lifeplayers are being used in Zambia's urban areas too!

Zambian women have a rich and long tradition of women’s listening groups. After World War II, the BBC broadcast programmes of interest to women across Southern Africa, and these were especially popular in Zambia.  

Today Zambian women are still keen listeners of radio programmes. However, barriers like  the high levels of poverty in many rural areas coupled with the cost of  batteries makes listening unaffordable to the poorest.  In addition, electricity is non-existent in many places.  Even in urban townships, if a family is hooked up to the grid, they may not be able to pay for electricity or a radio set.

Although rural areas are the primary destination for our Lifeplayers, which are loaded with the National Food and Nutrition Commission’s First 1,000 Days content, we have found many urban women who are just as keen to listen.  To our surprise, not only did their children share the same issues of stunting as in rural areas, but mothers in urban areas are more likely to be faced with two temptations not as common in rural settings – tobacco and alcohol.  Both cigarettes and alcohol, mainly beer, are readily available and cheap in townships; and both are highly detrimental to a women who is pregnant or nursing.  Further, we found that urban women too had little information on nutrition and other aspects of the importance of the first 1,000 days from conception.  We also met quite a few teenage mothers who had dropped out of school to have a baby and did not return to finish their education. 

This listening group in an under-served Lusaka township comprises grannies looking after as many as eight children, and young mothers.  Most of the women are looking after orphans and other vulnerable children without any government support.  They told Lifeline that because the nutrition programmes were in Njanja, everyone in the group could understand them, even though it might not be their first or home language. Njanja is the most commonly spoken language in Zambia. 

Eunice, the listening group leader said that they were very happy with the Lifeplayer, especially because they could meet to listen when it suited them and that they could record other radio programmes as well. “We have hard lives and have little time to learn anything new.  We are happy to find new knowledge about maternal health and nutrition. Our group is mixed with young and old and we can all help each other.  If we don’t help each other out, then who will?  Most of us don’t have husbands and if we do, they don’t give us very much money.” 

Zambia has one of the highest rates of childhood stunting in the world, due to under-nutrition, and so the education of mothers in the first 1,000 days from conception is absolutely vital. The messages that these listening groups hear focus on maternal nutrition and diet, taking iron tablets and folic acid during pregnancy, breastfeeding, using mosquito nets effectively and attending pre- and post-natal clinics, as well as encouraging healthy lifestyles.  

Many more Lifeplayers are needed - and we sincerely hope that you will continue to support this initiative.

Mar 31, 2015

Little children are also loving the Lifeplayer!

Because our Lifeplayers have been so successful in the Learning at Taonga Market programme, they are also being integrated into a radio-based early childhood development initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Education. This means that young children just starting out at pre-school are able to enjoy listening to voices on the radio, to learn in their own language and to record their own voices. Like Taonga Market, the early childhood programmes are highly interactive and include songs, dance and play. Even young children love hearing themselves on the radio, which the Lifeplayer can capture. Early childhood learning is critical to long-term brain development, and children who have access to these fundamental building blocks are more likely to do well at school. 

We are receiving reports of the value of the Lifeplayer as a wonderful tool for lessons that need to be repeated, particularly for slower learners. That’s the beauty of the Lifeplayer: lessons and songs can be repeated over and over again, something that not even the most patient teacher is willing to do! This is true whether for a pre-school or a primary school learner.

John, a mentor supervisor for Taonga Market, told us that the Lifeplayer is a very helpful tool for teaching mentors who are not formally trained teachers. He tells us that it gives mentors the opportunity to listen to the lessons first and to be prepared, which they really appreciate. 

In addition, Zambia’s Ministry of Education recently presented the long partnership between the Learning at Taonga Market programme and Lifeline Energy this month at an African education conference in Addis Ababa.

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