Forobla Yelen: Creating Collective Light for Safe Community Gatherings at Night
Meaning "Collective Light," Foroba Yelen is a portable street light system that was developed to improve the lives of Mali's rural villages. In Mali, access to electricity from the grid is available to only 45% of the population. After a two year stay with the local community, architect Matteo Ferroni developed the design solution as a way to create opportunities at night where women and children can socialize and work. Built locally from recycled bicycle parts and powered by a battery that is charged by solar panels, the Forobla Yelen system was an affordable solution that empowered the Mali villagers to activate their nighttime activities.
Urban activist Jane Jacobs had once famously said: “
This is something everyone knows: A well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.” The lack of lighting on any street creates blind spots that greatly discourages public activities where women are more likely to be under the watchful eyes of the community.
An affordable solution to create community gatherings at night
The significance of the Forobla Yelen system was its ability to create places of gathering at night in places that would otherwise be desolate. Low-income urban areas often face problems of inadequate street lighting due to the lack of funding for built infrastructure or access to the electrical grid.
How can an affordable and mobile solution such as Forobla Yelen help us make streets safer for women and girls to walk on at night?