Education  Kenya Project #24211

Solar Lanterns for Tana Students

by Tana River Life Foundation Vetted since 2014 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit
Patricia studying at home
Patricia studying at home

Greetings all,

This quarter of the year we have been affected with floods where 70% of Tana River County  is being covered with water due to the current floods problem in the Country. Being in the Delta, we have been the most affected county.

However, we managed to get testimonials from Patricia and Ali as quoted below.

"My name is Patricia  from Vumbwe village. I am 15 years old. When I was still a student at Kulesa primary school last year I received a solar lamp from Tana River Life Foundation. I am taking this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for assisting me with the solar lamp.

Before I had the lamp, it was not easy for me to wake up in the morning for preps because there was no available source of light. It was difficult to use the lamp because of the cost of paraffin and it was a daily expense my family could not afford.

Besides providing more study hours, the solar lamp also helped my parents earn some income in charging our neighbours hand phones, which helped them pay for my exam fees. I did well in the primary school leaving exams last year and am now fully sponsored by Tana River Life Foundation in Form 1 (Year 9) in Sacred Heart Girls Secondary School in Mpeketoni, Kenya. 

Thank you all again.

Patricia John"

And Ali wrote

"I am Ali from Bubesa village in Mwina Location of Tana River County Kenya. My mother and brother are farmers. My father is mentally not well. I had many challenges when studying in primary school. We live in a small mud hut. Where we live, when it rains, our walls may be washed away and need to be repaired.

After school I have to help my mother look for firewood and fetch water and so have little time to do my homework until night time but there was no light at home. I continued with those challenges until by good fortune I received the solar lamp from Tana River Life Foundation. I was now able to do night preps and complete my homework. So even if I could not do my studies during the light time, but at night I was able to study without fail.

It also helped my parents as I was studying at night, the lamp allowed my mother to cook and do other things at home like weaving mats. After my primary school exams, I did not do as I expected, but the results was still good. I am now in Form 1 at Tarasaa High School and am partially sponsored by Tana River Life Foundation. I now know that in all hardship there will be relief. I want to be a lawyer to help my people know their right. Thank you all very much.


Ali completing his homework using solar lantern
Ali completing his homework using solar lantern
Bubesa Primary School Primary School National Exam
Bubesa Primary School Primary School National Exam

In 2017, Tana River Life Foundation embarked on a new project of providing Solar Lanterns for students from the most rural villages in the Tana Delta. This was to enable them to do their homework and revise their studies at night at home, as well as providing their entire household with extra “daylight” for productive work like weaving mats and tailoring.

We started with a community survey and selected three schools for the pilot project. The first beneficiaries were primary school students in their final year living in villages without access to electricity.

We recently re-visited the three primary schools to evaluate the impact of this assistance.

(a) Bubesa Primary School : 12 beneficiaries

At Bubesa, the solar lanterns had a tremendous impact on the performance of the students in the national exams last November. The graduating class emerged top for the first time in the Garsen North Zone which comprises of ten schools. The mean grade obtained by all the graduating students showed an improvement of 20.44%.  They performed best in Mathematics. All except one student progressed to secondary school in January this year.

The class teacher, Mr. Mohamed Omar Bona, organized the entire class into small study groups according to the location of their homes.  During the harvest season, when the students could not attend school regularly, the respective groups studied together at night on their farms with the solar lamps hanging from trees.


(b) Vumbwe Primary School : 17 beneficiaries

Students from Vumbwe showed a big improvement in the national examinations with an increased number of girls being placed in top National and County secondary schools in January this year.


( c ) Mwina Primary School : 21 beneficiaries

In Mwina, the parents organized local boarding where the students camped in school during term time, sleeping in classrooms. This enabled them study together at night. The students therefore only used the solar lamps during the weekends and school holidays. The impact was therefore limited, although the school still managed to get a student placed in the top ranked girls’ County secondary school for the first time in the past 3 years.


The project has had a tremendous impact on improving education opportunities for rural primary school children, especially if the program is well managed by the schools and parents. For 2018, we have obtained relevant data and statistics from the Ministry of Education for all the public primary schools in the Sub-County to map out our targeted areas for assistance. We hope that with continued support from willing partners, we will be able to Light up the Future of at least 200 students this year.

On behalf of all the students who benefited from this assistance last year, we thank each one of you who made the pilot project possible. 


Graduating Class of Bubesa Primary School
Graduating Class of Bubesa Primary School
Mohamed Ali first beneficiary of the Pilot Program
Mohamed Ali first beneficiary of the Pilot Program


Parents' Meeting at Asa


Thank you for your continuous support on the solar lantern project for students from rural villages in the Tana Delta of Kenya. With your support, we have to date been able to assist students from three schools in Garsen North, the majority of whom are children of subsistence farmers. We now plan to focus our attention on the Garsen West area, specifically Assa Location.

Assa is far flung and remote and not easily accessible during the rains. It is approximately 200km away from our office in Idsowe village. Most of the families are nomadic pastoralists, migrating seasonally according to the availability of pasture and grazing land for their stock of livestock.

We undertook a survey at Assa Primary School and identified deserving students who will receive their solar lanterns early next year. Lanterns were purchased just before the middle of last term but we could not proceed with the distribution then due to the rains which had partially cut off road access to the school for some time. Due to the national elections which followed shortly after and the ongoing national school leaving examinations, we have postponed the distribution of the lanterns to January 2018.

With your continued support, we will continue to assist students from remote and far flung villages off the national power grid. Thank you once again for helping us light up the future of many young people from Tana Delta.


Be blessed.

Solar Lamps for Assa
Solar Lamps for Assa


Mwina Primary Students with TRLF Staff
Mwina Primary Students with TRLF Staff

In July 2017, we visited Bubesa and Mwina primary schools so as to issue solar lanterns to the beneficiaries. We issued to 29  Class 8 Students after conducting a survey and selected students with based on performance and background.


The students in this locality have high expectations of their final examination this year and after high school. Most of them aim to get at least 300 marks to enable them join the best high school on national level (That’s the average score that will enable students get a good performing school in the country). Most of them would like to come back and help their community in different ways. Martha a student from Mwina primary school aged 15 years old was quoted ,"I would like to score 350 marks in the final exam so that I go to the secondary school then after get a good college to study Medicine to become a skillful Doctor in my community."


The students were glad to be provided with the solar lanterns as it would not only help them to study at night but also their friends and siblings. As if a neighbor had a solar lantern it will encourage group discussions at night as well. This will enable them add more marks for better performance. Secondly, it will be a source of income for their parents as they will be generating some money from charging their mobile phone as the solar system have a charge port.


The parents were also grateful for the lanterns and they expect that their children would perform better. Vavute a mother to Ali  a student from Bubesa primary was quoted, ''I am expecting that my son would perform better now that he can be able to have better lights to study at home and I believe even the other school children from our village can benefit from it. It will be a good form of security at night as the solar can go upto 8 hours with light and it is very bright. I also don’t have to worry on buying kerosene for getting light at night, so that budget will be used for other purposes.”


Apart from distributing them the foundation usually goes with staff and youth volunteers so as to give talks to the students as we believe mentorship is important to them. Although most of the students come from poor background they are very bright and with the right support and guidance they can be of great help to their parents in the long run.

Mama Vavute with Son
Mama Vavute with Son
Martha Receiving Solar Lantern
Martha Receiving Solar Lantern
Bubesa Primary Students with Solar Lanterns
Bubesa Primary Students with Solar Lanterns
Students receiving the solar lamps
Students receiving the solar lamps

The rainy season started in April and the roads in the Tana Delta are almost impassable as a result. The second school term started in May. We planned to visit Kulesa Primary School to distribute solar lanterns to the students in Class 8, in particular the students from Vumbwe village who walk 5km to get to school every day. Their village has not benefitted from the rural electrification project run by the government.

After interviewing the school principal we realized that villages selected to participate in the electrification plan have yet to benefit from the project. She requested that that we include the students from these villages as well as it may take a while before their homes are connected to the grid.

We were unable to visit Vumbwe village as the rains were the too heavy and the roads were very slippery and muddy. We plan to visit the Mikameni and Bubesa villages for the next distribution.

Here is a video of the students from Kulesa Primary school receiving the solar lamps and a short message from the principal of the school.



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Organization Information

Tana River Life Foundation

Location: Tana River County, Mombassa - Kenya
Website: http:/​/​​
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Iris Tay
Tana River County, Mombassa Kenya

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