The flame of an initiative launched in the largely Coptic neighborhood of Mokkatam in Southwest Cairo is at risk of flickering out amid ongoing political turmoil that has enflamed the city once again.
The Governor of Cairo, Dr. Osama Kamal attended the inauguration ceremony of a series of nine striking, sensible and smartly-designed solar-powered lamps installed on a street in the slum area of Egypt’s capital city.
He was very excited about the project, according to Hany Arian, who works for the Association for the Protection of Environment (APE) in Egypt.
Arian told France24 that the governor even promised to expand the renewable energy program to similarly impoverished neighborhoods whose only source of nighttime light are neon signs that hang on the doors and walls of small businesses.
Three local women learned to make the lamps with recycled materials such as paint and soda can lids. These were strung together in long shades that wrap around a powerful bulb, which in turn receive their energy from solar panels donated by the LOCUS Foundation.
Working with APE, the Garbage Collectors Association, The Coptic Church of Moqatam and EQI (Environmental Quality International), along with Sweden’s Umeå University, the foundation launched the project November, 2012 with the intention of creating jobs, increasing security, and instilling a sense of local empowerment.
Those are great intentions, though it’s easy to criticize the group for being so naive as to think their small success could spread or that the government would support their fabulous green deeds.
(That being said, who would have predicted that another revolution would sweep through the country and knock a second Egyptian leader off his legs?)
Now the country is in complete turmoil, and the project is at risk of being paused if the LOCUS Foundation is unable to secure sufficient funds and interest to keep it going.
Although suffering is now rampant and a lot of people have been killed in the second wave of civic anger throughout Cairo, it’s a shame to see this wonderful concept fail, since even such a seemingly insignificant intervention can make an enormous difference in communities that live so deeply beneath the poverty line.
“A few days before installing the lanterns, we showed the project to the residents. The priests even talked about it during their sermons at church! On the night of the installation, everyone was very excited; this was a major event that changed the look of the two main streets we worked on,” said Arian.
As Egypt works through its political woes, the various parties involved are separate hoping to kindle the flame of these innovative solar street lamps.
:: France 24