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Google and SolarAid announce research partnership

Priscilla & son, Zambia - Patrick Bentley

Google has announced its continued support of international development charity SolarAid and its work distributing solar lights in rural Africa, by funding a two year evaluation on the impact of solar lights on poverty alleviation. 

SolarAid distributes pico-solar lights which provide clean, safe light for families living without electricity in rural areas. Light extends the productive working day for students to study at night and for businesses to stay open. It also has health and economic impacts; reducing the indoor air pollution caused by burning fuels like kerosene for light and enabling families to save a big proportion of the household income previously spent on kerosene, candles or batteries.

Google has agreed to fund a $650,000 two-year Randomised Control Trial study (RCT) into the impact of solar lights on poverty alleviation. Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google.org, said: “Research is an incredibly powerful tool in the fight against poverty. SolarAid has committed to rigorously assessing their programs and openly sharing their findings — and not just the rosy ones — to make sure they’re making a big impact in people’s lives. We’re excited to further support their mission.”

SolarAid’s director of research & impact, Kat Harrison, said: “We’ve now got a great deal of quality data that helps showcase the impact of our work but despite being such an important field, there is not a lot of empirical evidence out there on the links between solar lighting and poverty alleviation. This hinders our, and the sector’s, ability to advise on policy, make recommendations to governments and to fully explain just what an impact a pico-solar light can have.”

“Research is an incredibly powerful tool in the fight against poverty. SolarAid has committed to rigorously assessing their programs and openly sharing their findings — and not just the rosy ones — to make sure they’re making a big impact in people’s lives. We’re excited to further support their mission.”