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...
Jul 2, 2012

A #ToangaMarket child's view on solar v batteries

Moon City Community School, Lusaka
Moon City Community School, Lusaka

When Lifeline Energy recently went to the Moon City community school in Lusaka we had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Banda, a remarkable 14-year old who told us how much she adored the Toanga Market programme. She explained how the radio distance initiative had given her an education and future. What struck us most of all was not only her love for education but also her admiration for solar-energy. 

When asked why solar and wind-up radios are important, she immediately responded: 

"We had a radio that needed batteries but when the battery went flat we didn’t have money to buy new ones. Now we have a new radio that doesn’t need batteries, so we won’t suffer and we can use it all the time."

Sharon is just one of close to 900,000 #ToangaMarket children. Tweet #ToangaMarket to show your support for this truly unique educational programme.  


Jul 21, 2011

Radios easing “one of the biggest gaps” in Japan's recovery

Lifeline Energy’s radio-lights are helping ease “one of the biggest gaps” in Japan’s post-disaster recovery – reliable access to information and services. This and other feedback concerning an immigrant listening community, were listed in Oxfam Japan’s latest progress report.

The progress report – written four months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan – indicates that Lifeline Energy’s radios are providing critical information on “assistance and protection”. The report - produced by our in-country partner, Oxfam Japan - states that our radios are providing information on people’s “rights, where they can get assistance, services and protection.” The radios are not only helping the local Japanese population, but are also aiding immigrants from the Philippines and Latin America. 

Lifeline Energy teamed up with GlobalGiving and Oxfam Japan soon after the tsunami hit Japan to provide more than 20,000 all-in-one wind-up and solar powered radio-lights, known as the Polaris. Since then, Japan has faced a near nuclear meltdown and, on a positive note, won the Women’s World Cup football.

However, full recovery is still years away.  According to the Oxfam Japan report, almost 100,000 people are still displaced – of whom more than 24,000 are living in evacuation centres. Also, roughly 40,000 households still lack access to electricity. The Polaris is not only providing information access but also has a built-in LED light.

The Filipino and Latin American communities have benefited greatly from our radio-lights. Twenty community radio stations in Tagalog and Spanish have been created specifically for this large populace. According to recent statistics, there are more than 300,000 Latin Americans – mainly from Brazil and Peru - while there are close to 200,000 Filipinos in Japan. Following the Chinese and Korean communities, Latin American and Filipinos are the third and fourth largest immigrant communities in Japan respectively. 

The Oxfam Japan report highlights the importance of addressing the needs of immigrant communities in Japan, saying that they are receiving little attention from other agencies working in the country.

Jan 14, 2011

Haiti's Lifeline

Amidst reports that recovery in Haiti has been slow and many international organizations have abandoned their commitments, Lifeline Energy is proud that 1,000 of its solar-powered and wind-up radios have been successfully distributed and implemented in Haiti’s reconstruction plans. As a year passes since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shattered Haiti leaving 1.5 million homeless, reports indicate that only a fraction of the aid promised has actually been delivered.  

Despite initial frustrations with the delivery - Lifeline Energy’s project manager Chhavi Sharma travelled to Haiti to ensure the radios were appropriately distributed and that people were trained to use them – the radios have been a success.  Since their distribution they have proved instrumental in informing people on reconstruction plans and health awareness tips. This is important information given that the UN has estimated that 650,000 Haitians will still be living in camps by the end of 2011 and Médecins Sans Frontières has warned that cholera will remain a serious problem in the country for years to come.

In addition, the radios are providing psychosocial support.  One example is 52-year-old mother, Raymonde Saint Suren.  She said that the radio has proved to be an “all day long coping mechanism,” and added, “I listen to music all day and dance along with it. It helps me deal with the conditions that we now live in.”

Amidst the rise of “tent cities” in Haiti, there is also optimism that recovery from the earthquake could open a new chapter in Haiti’s development and provide a fresh start for a country that has been plagued with natural disasters. Lifeline Energy’s radios can help in this new chapter.

Relief Web, which is administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently acknowledged that as in past crises around the world, radio continued to be the most effective tool for serving the information needs of the local population. In a report entitled "Media, Information Systems and Communities: Lessons from Haiti," it wrote that the first media priority in Haiti was to restore radio service and that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the BBC, the Voice of America and Radio France International put together a “remarkable range of information and communications responses.”

“Radio is Haiti’s dominant medium. Access to radio can be shared easily and relatively cheaply among many people, and serves both literate and illiterate populations. […] These factors made radio the undisputed lifeline for the Haitian public after the earthquake, “ the report mentioned.

Although Lifeline Energy is no longer accepting public donations for this project, we will keep updating this important initiative on our website.

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