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...
Dec 23, 2010

Radios bring relief to Pakistan flood survivors

As the holiday season descends upon us and people battle to get home in time, millions in Pakistan remain displaced. The aftermath of the devastating floods that hit almost six months ago are still being felt as the outbreak of epidemics, lack of health facilities and shortage of food and shelter affect scores of people. During emergencies one thing in short supply is information, which radio provides. Our solar and wind-up radios are able to provide information to displaced populations on demand.
Infoasaid – a collaborative venture between the BBC World Service Trust and Internews – distributed our radios in the Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan. The two provinces were badly hit by heavy monsoon rains in July, which killed 2,000 and displaced millions more. According to reports, the provinces were not served well by the international community because of their location in relation to the floods.
Making matters worse is the coming cold months. Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, recently told reporters that the cold months “will sharply increase the numbers of respiratory infections and malnutrition, two of the biggest killers of Pakistani children.”
While distributing our radios with the help of Save the Children in Pakistan, Infoasaid provided critical in-country advice and support on how the radios are used to obtain humanitarian broadcasts.  
Lisa Robinson, senior projects manager of the BBC World Trust Service, said the two organizations travelled throughout the region in November teaching people how to use the radios, advising on what stations to listen to, as well as identifying radio guardians. She said:  “The orientation sessions were intended to ensure that staff were aware of the unique issues involved with radio distributions and could make informed decisions about priority recipients and distribution procedures.”
In regards to the radio guardians, Infoasaid chose female health workers associated with the Pakistan Ministry of Health, teachers and community council representatives. There was an even split between male and female radio guardians.  
In addition to offering humanitarian programming, Lisa highlighted the radio’s phone charger as a source of income. She wrote: “In some environments, this is an appropriate benefit of radio ownership, especially for women-headed households and other vulnerable groups.” She added that during one distribution, the recipients “applauded loudly” when they learned the radio contained a phone charger.
The remainder of Lifeline Energy’s radios will be distributed in the next year. In addition to the dozens of humanitarian broadcasts already serving the displaced population – including the BBC Urdu Service - Save the Children is currently working on their own radio broadcasts and hope to have it operational by next year.
Lifeline Energy’s radio distribution project in Pakistan was launched immediately following the floods. The radios have already helped inform the displaced, including children living in makeshift tents about the risks of disease, how to prevent sickness and where to obtain assistance. Given that impact the floods will be felt for years to come, our radios will not only provide immediate aid relief, but can also be used as an educational broadcast tool while schools are rebuilt.  According to a recent report by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, 10,000 schools are in the process of being rebuilt.
Although Lifeline Energy is no longer accepting public donations for this project, we will keep updating this important initiative.  


Oct 27, 2010

1000 radios integrated into Haitian relief efforts

Haiti's damaged presidential palace

A thousand of Lifeline Energy’s wind-up and solar-powered radios have now been integrated into Haitian relief efforts. Lifeline Energy project manager Chhavi Sharma partnered with representatives from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Relief and Development (IRD) and the Sosyete Animasyon Kominikasyon Sosyal (SAKS) to distribute the radios to help some of the 1.5 million Haitians who remain displaced.


Launched immediately following the earthquake, Lifeline Energy’s Haiti appeal was initiated to ensure the vulnerable and displaced receive vital, ongoing information to help rebuild their lives. Since then, the radios have been distributed to hundreds of people who desperately need the radios for early hurricane warnings, information on reconstruction plans and updates on the country’s national elections – to name just a few.


Jean Evelt, 16, told Chhavi Sharma that he has been listening to political news on the radio. With national elections looming, Evelt said that before the radio he was unaware about the presidential and legislative elections being held in November. “Now I know that there are 19 presidential candidates, as well as who they are and which parties they belong to,” he explained.


Evelt, whose father died during the hurricane, lost his family home in the earthquake and now lives in an IRD shelter – a home made of wood and corrugated metal. Temporary shelters cover the island, with locals referring to certain areas as “tent cities.”


NDI – an NGO that we have worked with in the past – is distributing 400 of Lifeline Energy’s radios to people living in areas around citizen information centers throughout the country. One such area is Carrefour – an impoverished area near Port-au-Prince.


As for IRD, the organization has been allocated 552 of Lifeline Energy’s radios. The U.S.-based organization began its Haiti operations on January 18, six days after the earthquake struck, and has since provided water, food, sanitation, medicines and shelter material. Most of its relief work has been focused in the Leogane district, the area closest to the earthquake epicenter with more than 93 per cent destruction. According to an IRD report, every resident of Leogane was sleeping outside in makeshift shelters following the earthquake.


IRD has now set up 727 shelters to house families and aims to set up a further 1,700 by next year. Our radios are being circulated among the shelters for people to listen to information on hurricane and storm preparation updates and, imperatively, on reconstruction efforts between the government and the international community.


According to NDI and IRD representatives who spoke to Chhavi Sharma, people are especially interested in early weather warnings, so they can strengthen shelters, keep their legal documents safe and take care of their cattle in anticipation of adverse weather conditions.   


Lifeline Energy’s radios not only protect Haitians now but also will protect them for years to come. Given that the Caribbean island is prone to hurricanes (in 2008, Haiti was rocked with four storms, which killed almost 800 people and effected a further 800,000), our radios provide these displaced people with critical information to help their future. In addition, the January earthquake has caused most communities to suffer from chronic power shortages, so our solar-powered and wind-up radios are vital tools.


To help the thousands of displaced Haitians, including 300,000 children, please visit Lifeline Energy’s appeal page.

The island
The island's growing 'tent cities'
Lifeline Energy
Lifeline Energy's radios
An NDI information centre in Port-au-Prince
An NDI information centre in Port-au-Prince


Jul 21, 2010

Help give Haitians sustainable access to on-demand information on aid and basic services.

Our wind-up and solar-powered Lifeline radios will play an important role in Haiti’s massive rehabilitation efforts, by disseminating practical information on local disaster preparedness efforts during the hurricane season, as well as information for such displaced groups as women and children.

As months have passed since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, the island remains in distress as 1.5 million citizens, including 300,000 children, remain displaced. Communication is an essential tool for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, as a way of coordinating the delivery of aid and communicating what is needed in terms of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, among others.

Despite the tremendous steps taken to alleviate the suffering, it is becoming increasingly clear that the longer-term recovery and reconstruction programs are only just beginning to have effect.


The 1,000 Lifeline radios are in Haiti and are ready for distribution to grassroots and municipal organizations, women’s associations and other community-based groups. The radios will benefit an estimated 35,000 listeners, who are unlikely to have listening access.


Lifeline Energy is working with partners National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Relief and Development (IRD) and AMARC to distribute the Lifeline radios.

NDI, our lead partner, has been active in the country for over a decade, helping to create Citizen Information Centers – community actions groups that have, since the earthquake, been vital in reconstruction. Those centers, which represent roughly 500 organizations, will be given the radios.

The radios will provide on-demand information broadcast from local and international sources, thereby improving the quality of life and providing social support.

Chhavi Sharma, Lifeline Energy’s project manager, is travelling to Haiti to help distribute the radios and conduct training.

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