Innovation That Matters

| Photo source SELF

Solar justice: a microgrid fuels free legal services

Agriculture & Energy

Two non-profits have joined forces to make legal aid more accessible

Spotted: Power insecurity or energy poverty affects around two billion people across the world today. Specifically, it’s most common in developing countries with less infrastructure, and industries attempting to function in these nations are disproportionately affected by intermittent power supply.

BarefootLaw, a scheme in Bala, Uganda, has been providing free legal aid to people in rural communities. However, energy intermittence means that the headquarters, called BarefootLaw Box, is often left without internet or working computers, meaning it frequently has to shut down for days at a time, preventing it from helping as many people as possible seek legal support and justice. To fix this, the non-profit sought help from SELF – the Solar Electric Light Fund.

SELF has developed the ‘Justice Microgrid’, a 14.25-kilowatt solar-electric mini-grid to provide the BarefootLaw Box the reliable energy it needs to continue its valuable work, even when the local area experiences power cuts. As well as the LawBox, the microgrid also provides power to the courts, town council, police, and community development office. SELF also installed solar-powered streetlights to boost visibility and public safety.

If legal services were made more readily available, BarefootLaw emphasises that they could be used more effectively to help the individuals who need them most. This is especially the case in isolated or rural areas that are typically overlooked or under-supported, and it’s these communities the non-profit particularly wants to support. With its tech-enabled services, and its newly solar-powered LawBox, Barefoot hopes to make inclusive and accessible justice a reality.

SELF hopes to replicate the success of the ‘Justice grid’ in other schemes around the world, addressing an aspect of power insecurity that is perhaps less well known.

Written By: Archie Cox




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