Manila: A movement that started out in the Philippines has been honoured as one of the recipients of the prestigious Edison Awards.
The Litre of Light Foundation won a Silver Award in the category Social Innovation for Humanitarian Technology during the recent Edison Awards named after the famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison.
The so-called “Litre of Light” consists of an empty plastic bottle, like the type usually used to package soft drinks. These containers are filled with water and bleach and then inserted in holes made on tin roofs of houses.
These provide lighting to houses during the daytime.
The success of the “Litre of light” project started out by Illac Diaz, a Filipino innovator, is a significant achievement for bringing light to communities that are not connected to the energy grid.
Other beneficiaries are impoverished areas in other parts of the world, said Emmanuel Fernandez, Assistant secretary of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs.
The innovation by Diaz also gained recognition during the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21 held in Paris, France.
Used with solar power
Three years on, the innovation was further improved to utilise solar power so that it can provide light even during the evening.
The heart of the innovation remains the litre-sized plastic bottle. But upgraded models are now fitted with a solar cell and circuity to power a light emitting diode at night.
“We chose not a high patent, not a high-tech approach, but a human approach. Low-tech but high impact — combining our culture of bayanihan [working together],” Diaz said.
The improvised “Litre of Light” had been providing lighting to distant communities in the Philippines for some time already.
With the device, people can walk the streets during the night in off grid areas, children can study, among others.
Voyage of light
In December 2018, Diaz and his team started a 100-day voyage aboard the UN “Peace Boat” to bring the Litre of Light to other communities around the World.
The “Voyage of Light” started from Yokohama and Kobe in Japan and moved to Xiamen in China, Singapore, Port Louis in Mauritius, Le Port Reunion, Ehoala in Madagascar and Walvis Bay in Namibia.
Other stops included Cape Town in South Africa in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Montevideo in Uruguay.
On April 1, 2019, it ended in the Philippines.
“For every port we visit, we not only bring materials and know-how on how to bring solar light, we also leave with them the capacity on how to replicate this solar light,” said Diaz.
Yoshioka Tatsuya, founder and director of Peace Boat said each person taught how to construct the solar light, can build three or more lights.
We want to show the world that Filipinos cannot only be beneficiaries but benefactors. We can be a bright shining light to show that we can make a difference.
Diaz said that at each port, they would invite about ten passengers for a workshop on how to construct a solar light.
“Within 15 minutes they were able to build light powered by the sun that could last for the next five years,” he said.
“Filipino ideas can make a big impact around the world,” Diaz said.
“We want to show the world that Filipinos cannot only be beneficiaries but benefactors. We can be a bright shining light to show that we can make a difference.”
Fernandez said: “Diaz and the team have shown that Filipinos are wonderful innovators, and not just innovators, but humanitarian innovators.”