Safe heating, lighting for shacks

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Solar-powered lights may soon replace dangerous fuel-powered lamps, which have for decades caused devastating shack fires.

To cut down the number of the fires, often caused by knocked-over lamps, the city of Cape Town is piloting the distribution of a new lamp and power-generator which harnesses the sun’s rays.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the focus was on replacing heating and lighting technology to reduce the need for flammable lighting and heating sources, which in turn reduced the number of fires due to candles, kerosene and gas lamps being knocked over.

“The Waka Waka Light and Litre of Light initiative go together well to help residents in informal settlements remove the need for combustible lighting sources.

“During the day the Litre of Light provides heat-free illumination to shacks that are often dark and without windows due to security concerns by residents.

“At night, the solar-powered Waka Waka Light provides up to 16 hours of renewable and free illumination and it can be charged by the light coming through the Litre of Light bottle, thus removing the need to place it in a window or elsewhere where it can be stolen,” Smith said.

The city has identified a piece of land in Masipumelele for the pilot project using the lights, funded by disaster risk management as part of its ongoing pursuit of fire safety solutions and as part of the city’s world design capital investigation into how design measures can solve practical problems.

The pilot was anticipated to cost about R20 000–R30 000, Smith said.

If proven successful, Smith plans to use the pilot as a blueprint for other communities, and to encourage corporates and companies to support the plan as part of their corporate social responsibility projects.


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