Where there is light, there is hope to build a brighter future
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Where there is light, there is hope to build a brighter future
Apr 22, 2016
Wieke de Vries, Flexiway Solar Solutions - NRS International
Providing access to solar solutions in a complex humanitarian context
Where there is light, there is hope, and that is exactly what the 60 million forcibly displaced people around the world need to build a brighter future. But implementing lighting interventions in humanitarian settings is not straightforward. Providing access to (solar) light and energy during emergencies requires a specialist approach and in-depth understanding of this highly complex environment. Two things are crucial: a smooth and efficient emergency response operation to enable the successful distribution of solar items, and solar products that are of the highest quality yet affordable and fit-for-purpose.
The United Nations declared 2015 as ‘the International Year of Light’ to raise awareness of how innovative lighting technology can be used to solve global challenges - and the current refugee crisis is one of the biggest challenges since the end of the Second World War. Every day we are confronted with gripping images of desperate and brave refugees seeking a safe haven so that they can build a better future.
Access to light a top priority
Access to safe solar lights and electricity are essential building blocks once basic necessities such as shelter, water and food have been provided. These blocks not only provide hope and light, but more importantly, empower people of concern to continue income-generating and educational activities at night, as well as provide protection and remove highly toxic and dangerous kerosene from the shelters. According to the UN Refugee Agency, displaced people from all over the world consistently report access to light as a top priority at the household and community level.
Flexiway Solar Solutions, an expert in fit-for-purpose and cost-effective energy and solar solutions, is part of a group of companies that is highly specialised in the development, production and supply of humanitarian relief products.
Our motto is ‘Combining strengths, improving lives’, an ethos our dedicated multicultural team is committed to every single day. Our parent company, NRS International, has 40 years of unprecedented experience in serving the humanitarian community. Because we work closely with international aid agencies and field experts, we believe in beneficiary-driven design to meet the exceptional quality standards the often harsh camp conditions require.
Essence of fit-for-purpose
These tough conditions ask for reliable, durable, strong and efficient solar products. In other words: fit-for-purpose. Our engineers created solar solutions that show outstanding performance results in all types of extreme weather and living conditions. Think about the frequent monsoon rains in natural disaster prone areas in various parts of South East Asia, but also about the very high humidity levels and extreme heat in tropical environments.
Average stay in refugee camp 17 years
Around the world, people unfamiliar with the challenges faced by refugees routinely guess that the average time spent in a refugee camp is somewhere between 6 months and 2 years. The reality is very different, with the average stay in a refugee camp being nearer 17 years. This is yet another argument supporting the idea of high quality, reliable products that last for years.
Solar shelter solutions
Reliable also means that even on cloudy days a beneficiary can trust the run-time of sun powered products, such as specifically designed shelter pico systems, mobile phone chargers, radios and streetlights. Our products are designed in such a way that they will not deplete when charged on a regular basis, come rain or shine. This ensures beneficiaries do not have to turn to traditional energy sources such as dangerous kerosene lights or even charcoal, and can avoid health problems.
Disaster relief is 80% about logistics
Having fit-for-purpose solar products is great, but getting them to the people whose lives depend on it is vital. The devastating earthquake that shook Nepal in April this year proved once more the strategic importance of an effective and efficient logistics operation.
We know disaster relief is about 80 % logistics and our Dubai-based team managed to get 100,000 much needed relief items, including our Solar Muscle, through to Nepal just days after the disaster, by air, sea and land. This was despite challenging circumstances such as airport closures, landslides, closed borders, and administrative problems securing permits, customs, etc. The successful operation was accelerated by our decision to send a team to the disaster zone in Nepal, who were able to assess emergency relief needs first-hand.
When Concern Worldwide and its partners in Nepal responded to the Nepalese earthquake this summer, they included Flexiway Solar Solutions in their emergency distribution. One beneficiary, Ratna Maya Khadka reflected, “When the earthquake came the power to the village was cut off and as we were living in tents at that time the solar light helped me to move around once it was dark. It was so good to be able to see where things were and I would have been afraid to use a candle in such a cramped and congested space”.
About Flexiway Flexiway Solar Solutions is committed to providing unlimited access of power to people living off the electrical grid by tapping into a free, clean and renewable source of energy around us: the sun. We lighten up the humanitarian and development communities around the world with our efficient, affordable and fit-for-purpose solar products, hence, creating a brighter and safer future for everyone on the planet. Flexiway Solar Solution is part of NRS International, a family-run company that develops and manufactures products for the humanitarian aid, public health and development sectors. It aims to improve the everyday lives of people in need by providing cost-effective aid essentials. Headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it is the parent company to two other subsidiaries:
NRS Relief offers core relief items and multi-purpose shelters;
TANA Netting manufactures WHOPES-recommended DawaPlus® 2.0 insecticide treated nets as a tool for malaria control and prevention.
 UNHCR, ‘Global Trends – Forced Displacement in 2014’, 18 June 2015, p. 2  Light impacts SGBV, but not in the way you think | UNHCR Innovation. 2015 [ONLINE] Available at: http://innovation.unhcr.org/light-impacts-sgbv-but-not-in-the-way-you-th.... Accessed 15 September 2015  UNHCR, ‘Protracted Refugee Situations’, Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, Standing Committee, 30th Meeting, UN Doc. EC/54/SC/CRP.14, 10 June 2004, p. 2  VAN WASSENHOVE, L. (2006). Humanitarian Aid logistics: supply chain management in high gear. Journal of the Operational Research Society, vol. 57, issue 5, pp475-489. Nature publishing Group