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...
Feb 21, 2017

World Radio Day highlights Zambian farmers

Ndabile demonstrating a Lifeplayer to farmer
Ndabile demonstrating a Lifeplayer to farmer

Earlier this month, we celebrated World Radio Day. This is a day that acknowledges the power and benefit of radio around the world and is sponsored by UNESCO. Our partner and great friend, Ndabile Liche, the female voice and producer of Farm Talk wrote an engaging blog which was recently published on UNESCO’s World Radio Day site: http://www.diamundialradio.org/news/why-radio-you-for-women-farmers-zambia-worldradioday.

We mentioned this because our Prime radios and our work with women farmers in Zambia feature prominently in Ndabile’s piece. What we do is further validated when written about by someone else.

Ndabile told a story of lead farmer Mabel, who uses a Lifeline Prime solar and wind-up radio in Dingeni Village in the Eastern Province. The village isn’t far from the border with Malawi. “For a long time ignorance levels in women were high in Zambia.  We were considered as last decision makers in almost everything”, Mabel said.  “Most of the women were regarded as housekeepers, not decision makers and were only allowed to do specific jobs, but didn’t make money.  Already there was information on radio, but women had no money to buy batteries to hear it.”

Mabel further explained, “In 2013 in what we call COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation), and after seeing the challenges these women where facing (poor livelihoods, high levels of illiteracy, early marriage), the COMACO boss decided to introduce farmer radio programs and provide us with these loud, blue Prime radios.” And the radios have been such a resounding, difference-making success that COMACO procured a further 1,000 units last year.

The demand for our Prime radios and Lifeplayer MP3s continues to grow apace in Zambia as more farmers join the COMACO family and commit to conservation farming practices. Previously, places where the Farm Talk radio signal didn’t reach, can now be covered with our Lifeplayers MP3s, to ensure those farming cooperatives don’t miss out. Weekly Farm Talk content is loaded onto the Lifeplayers ensuring farmers who live outside a radio footprint can listen and learn.

The Lifeplayers have also been innovatively used to deliver an “executive education” course for lead farmers to help develop their skills beyond farming practices and into farm management, bookkeeping, marketing and furthering conservation of wildlife and the habitat. 

COMACO is unable to keep up with the demand for our Primes and Lifeplayer MP3s, especially for those areas outside of the Farm Talk footprint. One unit supports at least 20 farmers directly and thus hundreds more indirectly, making this incredible value for money.

Please help us to continue to support this great initiative that yields real and tangible results for women farmers like Mabel through sustainable and on-going access to information.  

Listening group leader, Mabel, with Prime radio
Listening group leader, Mabel, with Prime radio
Feb 3, 2017

1000 Days of Motherhood - Phase 2

Zambian listening group
Zambian listening group

The fourth quarter of each year is usually the quietest as year-end reports are due and programs begin to wind down for the festive season. Less fieldwork is conducted during this time, which is why our project update is a bit briefer than usual.

We've noted in all our previous reports that Bushes that Grow is name of the audio learning series for rural women’s listening groups that promotes the critical first 1000 days from conception in the womb until the age of two. Most of the mothers are subsistence farmers and are either illiterate or have a low level of education. 

Given the popularity of Bushes that Grow with mothers (and even some fathers), a second series has been created and is ready for distribution by our friends at National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFCC). Like the first series, it’s been produced in the four main local Zambia languages and English. The NFCC conducted extensive research through its local partners (and included feedback from Lifeline Energy, by the way) to determine what additional content was most wanted and needed.

As the majority of women are farmers, the second series includes additional information on growing food crops in water scarce areas, composting, and recipes for healthy meals using low cost ingredients. There are programs on the environment and habitat conservation, which include the dangers associated with deforestation and health issues linked with nutrient depletion from the soil. Clean and fuel-efficient cookstoves are emphasized to help preserve local trees and improve health outcomes.

The NFCC has made an urgent request to provide additional Lifeplayers to help support this important initiative to expand into new rural districts  Please consider continuing your support.

Dec 7, 2016

Formally Launching in the New Year

Although the SoundStart initiative isn’t yet fully funded, we’re launching it early in the New Year. Given the immense need, our key partners GROW Educare Centres and Wiggle and Rhyme (the main content provider) are just as anxious as we are to get SoundStart up and running.

The first 8 township pre-schools have been identified in Cape Town that will receive our solar-powered Lifeplayer MP3 units. Most high-density townships are crime hotspot areas making preschools with outside areas either small or non-existent. Priority is being given to those centres which are under-resourced, over-crowded, have limited outside play areas and untrained teachers. Preschool teacher training facilities have closed in South Africa and there is little government oversight at this level as well. Therefore, many of the teachers are not formally trained and oftentimes other classroom support many be kind-hearted local women who want to help out.

These are also pre-schools which are convenient for working parents to drop their children off in the mornings and collect them in the afternoon. Parents who are mainly domestic workers, day laborers or petty traders, depend public transport such as trains, buses and mini-bus taxis to get to work and often have to leave as early as 0600 to get to work on time. Children might only be collected again at 6:00 p.m. This makes for long days for learners, teachers and caregivers alike.

The Lifeplayers will be loaded with pedigocially sound original music content created by South African musicologists at Wriggle and Rhyme. Music and acitivity lessons will be played in the mornings. The Lifeplayer will play engaging stories  in the afternoons to give teachers and caregivers a much earned break. As many of the children are from immigrant families, content is largely in English as English is the common language.

By the time of our next update, SoundStart will have officially launched and we’ll have a lot to share!

 
   

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