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The state of Bihar has lately been victim to devastating floods due to surging water levels of River Kosi. In 2008, the river changed its course, causing floods that rendered thousands of people homeless. Among the many villages affected by the flood was the village of Sahsoul, located in the Saharsa District. A small village with 115 households and a population of 600 people, Sahsoul was a completely un-electrified village with an average consumption of kerosene per household of 4–5 liters. Since the primary occupation of villagers was farming, the flood adversely impacted existing livelihood patterns and severely limited other livelihood options available in the village as well.
The LaBL solar charging station had however been set up just before the occurrence of the floods. Sahsoul was chosen for implementation after considerable due diligence and it is the result of the robust installation guidelines issued to the product partners and implementation partners that even after the floods had submerged the entire village, there was no considerable damage inflicted to the charging station or to any of its components. After the floods, the solar charging station has played a key role in the rehab process.
‘The lanterns have changed our position in the society’, says Ayesha Begum, a resident of Sahsoul. Like Ayesha Begum, most of the women in the village feel that the lanterns have helped them change their plight. With access to bright light under which they are able to complete a number of activities, the women feel much more at ease and comfort. Though the road to rehabilitation and recovery is still far in Sahsoul, the VLE managing the station is determined to facilitate this process, helping people to come to terms with their loss and getting back on the path to development and progress.
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