It is 10 years since the historic 2005 Cooperation Agreement was signed at Bute House between the Governments of Scotland and Malawi. It outlines the key areas in which Scotland and Malawi will work together for the mutual benefit of the two countries, with a focus on sharing experiences and skills.
Hosting a reception to mark the anniversary, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The links between Scotland and Malawi are more than 150 years old, going back to the time of Dr David Livingstone and early Scottish missionaries. Our modern day relationship remains based on those people to people links, with a key focus on partnership.
“Since the signing of the formal Cooperation Agreement, the Scottish Government has invested over £55 million in Malawi over the last decade.
“It provides an opportunity for both countries to learn from each other. More than 300,000 Scots and two million Malawians benefit from this relationship each year, in areas including education, health, agriculture and renewable energy.
“We’ve also brought new energy access to almost 80,000 people in the most rural parts of Malawi, through a £2.3 million renewable energy project.”
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, is it an act of justice” – Nelson Mandela.
Yet, in Malawi, only 9% of the 15.9 million people have electricity, leaving the other 91% relying on ‘high risk’ light sources, such as a Kerosene lamp– a lamp which provides only poor light at best, while omitting a toxic black smoke.
The poor light significantly limits the length of the working day and ability for children to study.
Overall it is hazardous to the health and well-being, not to mention the expense – which is up to 15% of a family’s income, prohibiting some of the most basic human needs being met and placing progression out of this vicious cycle, out of reach.
Initiated by the Scotland 2020 Climate Group, the Scotland Lights Up Malawi campaign is raising funds (initially £400k) in order to address climate justice by investing in solar lights in Malawi, undertaking research into climate justice and educating children both here in Scotland and in Malawi.
The Malawi and Scotland partnership is grounded upon its historic, cultural and political links, but also because Malawi is one of those worst effected by poverty, now classified as the poorest country in Africa and in the top 10 in the world.
We are the beneficiaries whilst far too many fellow human beings still face living in poverty.
“Scotland has a rich heritage in both energy and technology and it is time we put these advantages to work for those who will be most affected by Climate Change. Solar light, as a proven technology, has the power to be a disruptive force for good in countries like Malawi…” – Ian Marchant, Former Chair, Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group.
The delivery partners working with Scotland Lights Up Malawi are Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB), Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and SolarAid – in collaboration with the Scottish Government.
Scotland Lights up Malawi addresses three key areas:
EDUCATING Scottish society on the related issues of climate change and poverty through the development of educational material, which will then be piloted in a sample of schools, building on the Eco-Schools Scotland Programme.
MEASURING the impact of this approach on climate change and poverty using a climate justice framework.
DELIVERING over 100,000 solar lights to the most disadvantaged communities in Malawi through SunnyMoney social enterprise (via SolarAid).
The impact so far, is a significant legacy and movement to have accomplished; however it doesn’t stop here, with £65,000 of the initial amount still to be raised the opportunity remains to achieve further substantial transformation to the welfare of many more Malawian lives.
When something so simple and basic as energy (that we in the west very much take for granted) is so lacking and is also the subject that potentially makes the majority of you tick – brings a challenge to us and our understanding as millions of people remain in that place of energy poverty.
However Scotland Lights up Malawi encourages us to step up the table so that we can help millions with a simple solution – solar light.
Yet in its very simplicity – it provides a gift of clean, affordable and sustainable energy that in turn provides a step up for people as they strive for a future, equality and hope – climate justice.
Solar lights offer huge benefits to Malawians. They need no further fuel source, so are far cheaper than kerosene and far safer as there is no risk of burns. And they offer a reduction in heavy and immediate carbon emissions that come from kerosene.
The benefits to schoolchildren mean that they can study into the evening, increasing their educational opportunities. This is of particular importance to girls, who often have household chores to complete during daylight hours before they can start their studies at night.
On Tuesday 1 December 2015, the UK hosts its second year of ‘Giving Tuesday’ – a movement which encourages people to give a little something back.
Can you give a little something back to help Scotland Light Up Malawi?