LAST_UPDATEThu, 19 Jul 2018 11pm

How Solar Panels Are Helping To Keep Rohingya Refugees Alive

The 600,000 Rohingya refugees that recently arrived in the overpopulated refugee camp in Bangladesh may be deprived of running water and adequate toilets, but solar panels have graced the oppressed ethnic group with power for their lights and fans.

AFP reported that the panels were one of many prized possessions that the refugees took with them as they charged their necessities in tents that heats up under the scorching sun.

The panels are of significant value to the refugees, that some have traded their meagre resources in order to purchase them upon arriving in Bangladesh.

While food and water are difficult to come by, the sun is seen as precious commodity amongst the refugees in the absence of electricity – despite the fact that those native in Rakhine state lack access to main powers.

As a matter of fact, Kabir Ahmed’s temporary grocery store, which is set up at the entrance of the Balukhali refugee camp since his arrival in the country in August of this year, is powered by blue solar panels.

“Now we can have light at night, and when it's really hot the fan gives us a bit of relief,” he shared with AFP as he explained that he obtained enough energy to power four light bulbs and two small fans.

However when the light bulbs are not needed, Kabir relayed that they are kept away as a means to save enough energy to ensure that the fans are able to run through the night, while they charge their mobile phones at a market that is within their proximity at a cost of 30 taka (MYR0.02).

Additionally, now with long electric cables, the tents of 582,000 Rohingya refugees based at the Balukhali camp are equipped with power points.

Though the solar panels have given refugees a lifeline, Anwara Begum, who is based at the most populated and well-known refugee camp in Kutapalong, shared with AFP that she relies on a brick at the centre of the alleyway to place her miniature solar panel to absorb as much sun as possible.

She reveals the panel is connected to a small battery powering a mobile charger and a small bedside light.

Anwara also communicated that as the sun sets at 5.30pm, refugees are once again left in darkness and will resort to staying in their tents.

- Malaysian Digest