Residents and tourists who have not yet seen the inaugural Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival are encouraged to visit Expo City Dubai this weekend.

Not only will they be amazed at the breathtaking light art installations but they can also learn and take part in a simple environment-friendly solution that could literally light up a whole community.

Philippines-based civic organisation Liter of Light is demonstrating how discarded one-litre plastic bottles can be turned into low-cost tubes that can light up the floating villages of the Manobo tribe in Agusan Marsh in the Philippines.

Several families and individuals have already lent their hands creating hand-built lights that could last for five years. Liter of Light was founded in 2014 and has, for a decade, provided lighting for around one million homes in several marginalised communities across 32 countries, including in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Bright spot

“The Filipino movement ‘Liter of Light’ is keen to be a bright spot in tackling global energy poverty,” founder Illac Diaz told Khaleej Times.

“We use recycled plastic bottles and locally sourced materials to illuminate homes, and our lights spark hope and create new, happy memories. It is a profound experience to empower people build something that can help other people in need.

“Liter of Light is one of the strategic partners of Dhai Dubai Light Festival. We would like to invite everyone to experience the magic of light through solar lighting workshops with Liter of Light,” he added.

Spark of a movement

The civic organisation initially started as a disaster-response initiative before growing into a movement. Now, Liter of Light is also providing livelihood opportunities. The solar reading lights, streetlights and mobile charging systems made from recycled plastic bottles, pottery and bamboo have helped communities learn green skills and engage in green jobs.

Diaz said they had worked with 600 women cooperatives and thousands of volunteers to assemble solar lights using readily available and easily repairable materials.

With its grassroots movement, Liter of Light has been given the 2016 St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, 2014-2015 World Habitat Award, and the $1.5 million Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015.

Yousuf Caires, executive director, Expo Live Innovation Programme at Expo City Dubai, added: “Liter of Light was the first organisation to win an Expo Live Innovation Grant during our initial round back in 2016. It was clear to us that this global movement would generate meaningful impact not only through its solar lighting programmes, but also their commitment to advocate for change and raise awareness about the challenges arising from climate change.

“Their pledge programme is a great opportunity for all of us to become part of the solution and make it possible to bring light into someone’s life,” he underscored.

Tangible solutions

Diaz said directly involving the people is a tangible solution to climate change. “By involving people – especially the youth – we hope to inspire them to reduce their carbon footprint while contributing in a tangible way to reducing energy poverty in the places where we operate across the region,” he explained.

The founder of Liter of Light has a simple calculation. “Each of the hand-built lights lasts for five years, reducing carbon emissions by 1,000kg by replacing traditional forms of lighting, especially kerosene, with clean energy,” he noted.

“At a time when climate anxiety, especially among young people, is at an all-time high, we believe it is essential to work together – to take action, and to change the narrative and inspire action,” Diaz said.

Dhai Dubai is running until Sunday, showcasing curated work of seven Emirati artists taking visitors to a visual and artistic journey of light.

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