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How solar lights brought joy to 50 vulnerable residents in Benue

Grace Oliver, a young widow resident in Iyogun community of Makurdi Local Government Area in Benue State could not hide her joy after receiving a…

Grace Oliver, a young widow resident in Iyogun community of Makurdi Local Government Area in Benue State could not hide her joy after receiving a free solar panel and its accessories from Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP).

Mrs Oliver who had been a widow for eight years said she ruled out the possibility of ever getting electricity supply in her home because the cost wasn’t within her reach.

“The house I now live in was under construction when my husband died. I could not afford to use electricity, so ever since I lived in darkness at night.

“Few days ago, the GIFSEP team visited my home at night while I was using a torch to cook. In fact, when they arrived (I didn’t know they were carrying out an assessment), my home was like a forest.

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“Surprisingly, the following day, the team gifted me with a solar light. I’m so happy that I can now charge my phone while my environment would brighten up because of this light,” she said.

The widow was one among 5O vulnerable people in the community – mostly young – who benefitted from the gesture of the free solar panels and its accessories as part of intervention from a non-governmental organisation to caution the effect of the 2022 flood on them.

Also, Moses Orshio leaped for joy over the solar gift, noting that though he lives in a city, it was saddening that he had been without light for as long as since 2004.

Orshio said for 19 years he had no form of real light except for the use of a torch, adding that the organisation had brought untold happiness to his household with the provision of the solar panel.

The GIFSEP had, in collaboration with its partners to include Eunice Springs of Life Foundation (ESLF), said the multiethnic Iyogun community was chosen for the intervention because it was one of the worst hit vicinity during the 2022 flood in the state.

GIFSEP’s David Michael said the flood was as a result of climate change, urging the residents to prepare early for this year’s flooding as there was a prediction that the flood will likely occur again in 2023.

“We come to give 50 people in this community solar light; it’s a one-step intervention, then we will bring it again if these ones are well managed,” Michael said.

Similarly, Tine Agernor, Programme Manager of ESLF, told the people that the intervention followed the plight of the residents during the flood which sacked them from their homes to such an extent that they had to use canoes to move around the area just as there were vulnerable people in the community whose only source of light was torch.

Agernor added, “So we came with our partners to intervene in order to reduce the problem of flooding.”

Meanwhile, another partner, the Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERRI)’s Elisabeth Jeiyol, posited that the effect of climate change was usually tougher on women, stressing the need for members of the community to heed early warning.

Jeiyol explained that the beneficiaries were selected after a visit paid to their homes by the organisation which discovered that they were without any form of electricity.