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Improving Health Conditions
Banganga village in Rajasthan derives its name from the famous Hindu epic mythology 'Mahabharata', in which Arjuna, the third of the Pandavas, shot an arrow in the ground and created a water body that is said to be a stream from the holy river Ganga. 'Banganga' literally means 'a stream formed from an arrow'. The pandavas are believed to have spent a year in exile here.
Today, there is little sign of the historical legacy in the region, or of the Ganga for that matter. This is due to the immense underground water harvesting and massive deforestation. Hundreds of acres of land remain barren, leading to reduced rainfall in the region. The people of Banganga depend on agriculture. Electricity is not available in the village although the grid reached here long ago, so to speak. Most activities after sunset were carried out under kerosene light that adversely affected health and weakened eyesight. However, the ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ campaign started changing this situation, providing villagers with clean and high-intensity lighting. The need and demand for lighting could be perceived from the fact that almost all the lanterns got rented out every day.
The LaBL project’s activities have resulted in tangible socio-economic benefits to the community. The lanterns have helped to elevate the standard of living of 100 households in Banganga by increasing the energy supply for lighting. Due to proper lighting facilities, students are able to study in the tutorials, as well as at home in the evenings. The lantern is also contributing towards reducing women's drudgery, as they have the opportunity to do more productive work after sunset under improved lighting conditions. The use of lanterns has also reduced indoor air pollution, thereby reducing the ill effects on the community’s health, especially of children and women.
Improved lighting facilities have led to enhanced production and more in income-generation activities—basket making, broom making, vegetable sorting, and rural vegetable market. Consequently, there is more income for the households. The lanterns are also being used by the shopkeepers and vegetable sellers in the nearby vegetable market, which remains open till late evening. The implementation partner, Humana People to People India runs several SHGs (self-help groups) in the village. SHG members believe that through these lanterns, they can increase their income by devoting more time to commercially productive activities in the evening and thus can contribute more to the SHGs. In the long run, the SHGs have plans to open their own bank account for small-scale money lending within the community members.
Smt. Goti Devi, who runs the charging station, feels empowered to manage the station. She feels that by becoming the entrepreneur of the charging station, she and her family enjoy respect in the village. She is assisted by her son Omi in technical maintenance of the station and in following up with the users if they do not return lanterns on time.
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