Bright idea in a bottle

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Copy of ca p13 Liter of Light done INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Five-year-old Luvo Duntsa outside the bedroom of his home where his mother, Cyndy, second from right, celebrates having light with Swiss student Moritz Gaetjen, 22, far left. Picture: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - With a vast number of South Africans in informal settlements being kept in the dark without access to basic resources such as electricity, a simple cooldrink bottle could light up their lives.

The Liter of Light Switzerland is a non-profit student organisation based in Switzerland on a mission to bring light to poor communities around the world.

The Cape Argus joined a team from the organisation as they showed the innovative contraption to residents of Zwelitsha in the Langrug Informal Settlement in Franschhoek.

“The idea is simple and brilliant. You make a hole in the roof of the shelter. You take an old plastic-bottle – preferably 1.5l – fill it with water and add some chlorine to keep the water clean. Then you install the bottle inside the hole – half inside, half outside. The bottle will capture the sunlight and refract it inside the house,” said Leoni Runge, project leader for the team in Cape Town.

“This substitutes a 55-watt lightbulb completely. No electricity, no carbon dioxide, no running costs. Even on a rainy day the solution still works.”

They adopted the Liter of Light model from its inventor, Illac Diaz from the Philippines, who had an idea to use the bottle for the slums in his country.

The Liter of Light is now a huge open-source network, of which the Swiss organisation is a part, that spreads the idea worldwide.

Runge said that the new light solution would address the problem of high electricity costs, as well as shack fires caused by paraffin or candles. The project would also provide an opportunity for micro-entrepreneurship.

“... We can teach community members how to do it and they can sell the installation service to their neighbours and have a source of income...”

They are collaborating on the project with NGOs Touching the Earth Lightly, the Community Organisation Resource Centre and Engineers Without Borders.

Zwelitsha resident Cyndy Duntsa, 27, said: “When we enter the home, I am wary... We have a lot of snakes from the mountain, but now it is easy to spot them.” - Cape Argus

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