Supporting Solar Health and Access in East Africa

women are receiving solar lamps at a clinic.

Photo Credit: Let There Be Light International

One in four health clinics in Africa lack electricity. The magnitude of energy poverty and its implications is staggering, especially for women and children.


Project context

a man holding a solar lamp in front of a traditional mud house.

Photo Credit: Let There Be Light International

In Uganda, only 1.7 million of 8 million households are connected to the public energy grid. Uganda's situation is not unique. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people without access to reliable energy increased in 2020 for the first time since 2013. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without access to electricity rose to 77% from 74% before the pandemic.

The implications of energy poverty are staggering, especially for women and children who experience detrimental impacts related to education, health, economics, and wellbeing.  Energy poverty is directly tied to gender inequality  as it promotes violence against women, unequal treatment, and socio-economic vulnerability. Finding ways to introduce low-cost solar solutions to vulnerable communities and populations represents an urgent priority and opportunity for innovation and engagement.

SHU consults for and partners with Let There Be Light International (LTBLI), a Buffalo-based nonprofit that has helped more than one million people in off-grid Africa gain access to solar energy in their homes and health clinics. Since 2014, Solar Health Uganda (SHU) electrified 79 solar clinics, distributed 23,935 solar lights in off-grid communities, conducted 511 clean energy outreaches, established 2 women solar entrepreneur groups and provided consultancy services to 10 non profits.

​Together with LTBLI and other partners, SHU is raising awareness about initiatives to benefit vulnerable communities and individuals living in extreme energy poverty.

SHU offers data-driven consultancy services to nonprofit organizations, social enterprises and others. Through innovative solar projects and a partnership model, SHU is helping existing social service organizations to improve their health, wellness, educational, economic, and environmental programs and measurable outcomes. ​SHU advocates for NGOs to incorporate an energy-access perspective into their existing programming, and its highly trained consultants are available for short-term and long-term projects.  

Building on recent work with UB Communications students, SHU is looking forward to working with students and faculty from across  SUNY and welcomes ideas for new engagement and collaborative opportunities.

installing solar panels in Uganda.

Photo Credit: Let There Be Light International

Project opportunities

child reading by a solar lamp.

Photo Credit: Let There Be Light International

Students may engage in the following priority initiatives. Please indicate interest and any specialized skills or experiences in your application letter/email. We are also open to other ideas for collaboration and welcome SUNY faculty interested in engaging around courses or research.

  • Research and content development

SHU is  looking for student researchers to prepare content for our newly formed Learning Forum supported by Let There Be Light International that convenes leaders of community-based organizations throughout Uganda and beyond who are addressing energy poverty and implementing solar projects developed and currently sponsored by LTBLI. Students may choose to present their work or prepare interviews, podcasts or other content that can be shared and further developed.

  • Social Media

SHU is seeking students to help develop social media campaigns, working with provided photos, videos and media content and expanding engagement through YouTube and other social media platforms. SHU’s goals include creating awareness of our impact, raising our digital visibility, building our potential to attract consultancy work, and connecting with other external partners.

  • Mapping and assessment

SHU is seeking motivated and creative students to help leverage the functionalities of satellite mapping and other dynamic assessment tools to examine impacts of the work it implements for its partners and to build further capacity for engagement as it expands its services and reach.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Digital Badge
Who is eligible Students of all backgrounds and majors invited to apply

Core partners

Project mentor

Mara Huber

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning; Director, Experiential Learning Network

127 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 829-2834


SUNY SDG Project Challenge

This project is for students interested in the SUNY SDG Project Challenge.

Express Interest

  1. Email ELN with letter of interest at to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to send this email)
  2. After you send your email expressing your interest, click the button to schedule a meeting to discuss the project. (Please be sure to include your letter of interest when scheduling the event)


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