Low-Cost Solar Brightens Lives in the Developing World

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A decade ago, Katherine Lucey oversaw a heavily subsidized
$1,500 solar-light installation in the rural district of Mpigi in
central Uganda. The 60-watt rooftop solar panel system could power three
lights in the four-room, off-the-grid house.

family’s father wanted the lights in his office, bedroom, and main room.
But his wife successfully argued instead for  a light in the room where
she cooked dinner, a light outside for security, and a light for her
chicken coop. After all, chickens lay more eggs when they have more

Lucey recalls being struck by how something as simple as
light could profoundly change a family’s life. Indeed, after
solar-powered lighting was installed, the family prospered by selling
more eggs and, over time, they bought a cow, a goat, and a pig. The
woman even started a school and women’s literacy club.

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