In our age of vast technological advancement, it's strange to think that there are still communities without electricity. Yet over half of all citizens in rural developing communities are without access to this seemingly pervasive commodity. In fact, in the most dire of situations, national electrification rates can hardly reach 7%. According to the World Bank, only one in four Africans has access to electricity from a grid. This dearth, which is felt most poignantly by those in rural areas, has the effect of hindering social advancement.
Pause for a moment to imagine your life without electricity. Imagine it without computers or phones, without a washer or dryer, without a heater, or an air conditioner, or a refrigerator. Imagine it, most specifically, without light. Living without such luxuries can compound our daily tasks, so we can easily imagine the added weight it places on people living in agricultural communities. These are the circumstances under which EPI works.
Though not entirely to blame, this lack of electricity relates closely to the underachievement of education in developing countries. Without light at home or in their schools, children of rural communities find it difficult to study, read and do their homework at night. Because they assist on farms and at other chores until past sundown, there is often no natural light left for these children to see by when it comes time to study. When light is available, it's often via kerosene or disposable batteries—both of which are expensive for families struggling to survive, and neither of which is given to children first if other work is to be done.
Furthermore, it has been found that school teachers are often reluctant to stay in communities such as this, because they are accustomed to the accouterments of urban life—where electricity is at least somewhat more reliable. In all, it is quite apparent that a lack of electricity can severely affect the education of young children.
There’s more, however. Children need to play! Especially for children that work so hard to support their families, the opportunity for free play is essential. Yet in many rural villages, funds cannot be spared for the building of playgrounds despite the desire. It is common, in many part of the developing world, to find school yards as vacant fields or dirt.
Thus, in a unique and innovative development, Empower Playgrounds seeks to combine the answer for electricity with the answer for play into electricity-generating playgrounds.
BioFil Washrooms and Boreholes
In developing countries, approximately 88% of diarrhoeal diseases are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Without access to clean water sources, people in Ghana rely on rain or river water for drinking, bathing, and washing dishes. Unfortunately these water sources often hold tiny worms and bacteria that can cause the diarrhoeal diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery. If children are sick, they can't go to school.
Not only does improved sanitation help children stay healthy, sanitation can also increase children's cognition. According to a 2013 study conducted by the World Bank this improved cognitive ability leads to higher test scores.
Girls' education is particularly impacted by sanitation. Girls often have to walk long distances to fetch water and firewood in the early morning. Being ‘needed at home’ is a major reason why children, especially girls from poor families, drop out of school. Providing water closer to homes increases girls’ free time and boosts their school attendance. Furthermore, a lack of separate and decent sanitation and washing facilities discourages girls who are menstruating from attending full time, often adding up to a significant proportion of school days missed.