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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.

Photo of Shane Zhao
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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.
 
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?

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great share for this challenge, Shane. I read about this recently at: https://worksthatwork.com/2/a-hole-in-the-darkness and really like how they explained their human-centered approach there. Hoping to see more of you across our challenge conversations...

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for sharing this Meena. I didn't realize that Forobla Yelen was owned and managed by women associations in Mali. The design solution empowered women collectives to take ownership over their communities. It also gave women the ability to directly shape their environments to meet their needs.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Happy to share, Shane – and thanks for reminding me about this awesome initiative. Perhaps you might add some notes to your post so folks reading it grasp these additional aspects also? Tip: You can update your post by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right. More tips at: http://bit.ly/oi_inspire

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Photo of Meena Kadri

And here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can dig who they're collaborating with. Think skills, experience, passions & wit! (I just checked out your profile on LinkedIn :^)

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for the extra tips Meena!

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