Solar Cow Project
Solar Cow rewards parents with free access to electricity in exchange for sending their children to school. YOLK install a Solar Cow, a solar system, in school and distribute Power Milk, a power bank. In the morning, children can plug the Power Milk into the Solar Cow and study at school while waiting for it to be charged. The Power Milk that children bring it home after the school day will be good incentive to parents to send the children to the school rather than the workplace.
150 million children are suffering from Child Labor and they are deprived of childhood and educational opportunities due to child labor. The solar cow project aims to help prevent the serious issue of child labor and provide educational opportunities. It is a social engineering project that rewards parents with free access to electricity in exchange for sending their children to school.
We understand that child labor is essentially a money problem: according to the 2008 report by International Labour Organization (ILO), poverty is its single largest cause. Therefore, its solution should target to persuade the parents by compensating with aid value that is at least equivalent to or larger than the economic costs of child labor wage that discourage parents from sending children to school.
Set up the 1st ‘Solar Cow’ in Pokot, Kenya
In this project, we partner up with schools in rural areas of Kenya with little access to electricity and install solar-powered charging stations in a steel frame of a cow, thus the name, Solar Cow, inside the school area. At school we also provide students with Power Milk, which are portable batteries shaped like a milk bottle.
Students come in the morning and charge their Power Milk through Solar Cow, so that after class, they go home with a fully charged power source that serves the entire household. Education is what takes place while they are waiting for Power Milk to be charged.
These Power Milk contain enough capacity to meet most needs for electricity for the average local household: charging cell phones and powering a flashlight, a radio, or other gadgets. By providing free access to the electricity, we in practice help families save up to 20 percent of their average monthly income that they’ve spent for electricity.
Furthermore, according to analysis of our preliminary project in Pokot, Kenya, it saves 4-6 hours of walking to the nearest charging station, which was previously one of their very limited means of getting access to electricity. The saving of such costs is used as financial compensation to parents for sending children to school instead of to a workplace.
Big impact with Small budget
CCT, Conditional Cash Transfer, pays cash to families if children come to the school and it has shown to be the most effective solution on treating social issues caused by poverty such as child labor. However it can give benefit only to very limited number of children because its cost increases linearly with time. To sponsor 1 student’s primary education CCT requires $1,080 ($15 x 12 months x 6years) while Solar Cow only needs 5%. Such drastic reduction of the cost is due to sustainable feature of solar energy. It only needs initial manufacturing and set-up cost: the sun will rise every day and deliver the energy for free.
- Components of Solar Cow
Power of Innovation
The problems of child labor, education, and energy infrastructure are complex and widespread in developing nations. Usually, each problem is addressed separately. However, YOLK recognized that these three problems are deeply intertwined. By creating the Solar Cow project, YOLK is able to chip away each of these problems simultaneously.
Creative solutions based on love and dedication can result in real change.
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