New Solar Street Lights in Agadez Strengthen the Safety of Local Communities

Published Date: 
Wed, 06/17/2020 - 21:15
Country: 
Niger

Niamey – Despite the installation of solar street lights at the end of 2016, the majority of the population in the city of Agadez continued to live in the dark. The street lights quickly became a target for petty thieves who climbed up to dismantle the batteries which had been installed only a few meters from the ground, rendering the lights unusable.

With support from the European Union, IOM has installed 54 new solar street lights in the city of Agadez, following a new design with buried batteries. Some of these lamp posts have replaced the ones in the previous locations while others have been installed in new areas deemed insecure by the host population due to the lack of poor visibility at night.

During the Monitoring Committee’s focus group discussions with community members in Agadez, the topic of petty crime often came up. “We place a lot of importance on the safety of our population,” said the President of the Special Delegation and acting mayor of Agadez, Dr. Mamane Boukari. “Following the focus groups, we understood that the safety of our streets was an issue we needed to tackle immediately.”

The security in many parts of Agadez is largely dependent on public lighting, especially in remote neighborhoods where access to electricity is limited and power cuts take place regularly. Fuel is too expensive for most residents while generators represent luxury for the majority of households.

Many of the city’s inhabitants have to work at night and return home on foot or on motorcycle, crossing several poorly lit streets, thus putting their safety at risk. This new lighting fixture will also allow women to be autonomous and continue to work after it gets dark.

“I take care of my children during the day, so I can only buy my groceries at night. I used to feel scared on my way back home,” says Rachida, a 22-year-old, whose road home is now illuminated by one of the city’s new solar lamp posts. “Since the streets are now well-lit, more people feel comfortable walking at night.”

To ensure the sustainability of the newly installed solar street lights, the implementing partner will offer a practical training course to students from the Department of Solar Energy at the University of Agadez and other youth from the city. Following their course, some of these youth may be selected and hired by the mayor’s office to ensure the maintenance of the street lights.

Awareness-raising activities will also be carried out by local associations in selected neighborhoods to strengthen the civic spirit and emphasize the importance of public goods. A neighborhood watch will be created comprised of different key actors playing active roles in the community, such as village chiefs, women leaders of local associations, youth leaders, and small business owners carrying out their activity in close proximity to the lights.

“We are grateful for this successful collaboration with the authorities in the region of Agadez,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “We hope such activities can not only contribute to the safety of the population but ultimately, spur the region’s economic development.”

IOM’s community stabilization activities in Niger focus on boosting the economic development through the implementation of activities such as cash-for-work, youth employment, use of local resources, agricultural projects, and the creation of cooperatives.

For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger at Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: mchiriac@iom.int.