Bassi, a Solar Saheli (Solar Friend), interacts with a self-help group for women in her village Moonpur village of western Rajasthan state, India on September 12, 2018. Image: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Annie Banerji Buffalo trampled over it? Rain drenched it? Child dropped it? No problem! This solar flashlight can endure it all, said Bassi in a pitch to her neighbours in rural India to convince them to power their homes with clean energy instead of polluting fuels. Bassi is one of 2,500 “Solar Sahelis”, or solar women friends, who fan out to different villages and persuade families to use solar energy in the western desert state of Rajasthan, which sees about 300 days of sunshine every year. With unreliable electricity and hours-long power cuts every day, many rural families in Rajasthan are often forced to rely on candles, kerosene oil lanterns or burning wood, which emit soot and noxious fumes. They not only can lead to premature death due to disease, but can also cause fire accidents and burn injuries. That is why solar is the way to go, 26-year-old Bassi, who goes by one name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in her village of Moonpur, about 130 km (80 […]

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