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Solar power source of rohingyas camps

Ⓒ AFP – INDRANIL MUKHERJEE – | Rohingyas refugees await solar-powered lantern at Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh on 7 October 2017

In the miserable Rohingyas tent camps in Bangladesh, lacking running water or infrastructure, the burning of heat is cleverly converted into electricity by many refugees through the installation of solar panels.

At the entrance to the Balukhali camp, one of these ubiquitous blue iridescent plates heated over the makeshift grocery store of Kabir Ahmed.

Working in a shrimp farm in Burma, the 46-year-old man has improvised since his arrival in Bangladesh in late August to flee the violence considered by the UN as an ethnic cleansing.

Ⓒ AFP – INDRANIL MUKHERJEE – | Rohingyas refugees await solar-powered lantern at Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh on 7 October 2017

The solar system, connected to a battery, provides enough energy to operate four bulbs and two small portable fans.

“Now we can have light at night, and when it’s really hot the fan gives us a bit of relief,” he told AFP in a simple loincloth, sponging liters of sweat on her torso with a cloth.

The first ventilator is installed above the counter of its stall. Despite the heat of the beast of the midday, his blades remain motionless.

The second, fed by a wire which goes to the next tent and sneaks through a hole in the black tarpaulin, is fixed overhanging the modest mat that serves as its layer.

Ⓒ AFP – INDRANIL MUKHERJEE – | A solar panel placed on the roof of a makeshift dwelling in a refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, on 7 October 2017

The whole equipment cost Kabir 7,500 takas (77 euros), financed according to the gift of one of his friends in Bangladesh.

In the absence of power lines, solar power is a valuable source of energy in the rohingyas camps where everything is lacking.

Some Rohingyas from Burma even land in Bangladesh with their solar panel in their bundles of exodus. Their area of ​​origin in the north of the Burmese state of Rakhine (west) is isolated and underdeveloped: the electricity grid does not generally extend to their villages.

Refugees met by the AFP accuse the Burmese authorities of not deliberately making the necessary investments to bring the current into the rohingyas localities, Muslim community paria in this country to 90% Buddhist. However, one Burman out of two does not have access to electricity, mainly in rural areas.

Solar “was the only source of energy in the area,” said Anwar Sadeq, one of Kabir’s sons, sitting behind the lollipops and baskets of dried fish.

– Recharge your laptop –

In Rakhine, the family had for two years a solar panel of 20 watts that they had to leave at home in the precipitation of the flight. In Bangladesh, they purchased a 50-watt panel.

On cloudy ceiling days, the household turns off the bulbs early to save enough energy so fans run all night.

“But with the rain, the heat is less strong,” notes Kabir.

Rohingya’s energy needs in the camps in southern Bangladesh are rough. The kitchen is made in terracotta ovens fed by a small wood fire.

Some official huts in the camps have put a diversion on a power line and offer power strips to recharge the mobile phones.

For their laptops, Kabir and his family bring a battery to be recharged in the morning at the nearby market, which they recover at full evening for a cost of 30 takas (0.30 euros).

But not all refugees can afford it.

In the neighboring camp of Kutupalong, Anwara Begum placed her miniature solar panel on a brick in the middle of the aisle so that it absorbs the maximum of light.

The plaque is connected to a small battery at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, unearthed in the camp, which has a plug for a laptop and a modest bedside beam.

In this part of the world where the sun goes down around 5:30 pm, “it helps us a lot, we can dine with light,” explains the 30-year-old woman who arrived from Burma at the beginning of September.

At the end of an hour, the bulb of the lamp goes out, plunging the tent into the darkness and uncertainty of Kutupalong.

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