In refugee settlements across the world, convenient transport facilities are one of many daily hurdles faced by the people who live there. But in one refugee community, in Orangi Town, Pakistan, a new award-winning project has set out to make mobility as easy, affordable and green as possible. Introducing Roshni Rides and their innovative system of solar-powered rickshaws.
Life for millions of refugees in settlements across the world is anything but easy. Currently, over 65 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. Providing refugee communities with access to sanitation, water, education, jobs, telecommunication and transport are just some of the issues that refugee camps are faced with.
But a new and innovative solution is currently in the starting blocks: Roshni Rides, a solar-powered rickshaw transportation system, designed to help refugee communities access affordable, safe and sustainable transport.
The brainchild of four Rutgers University students - winners of the Boston regional Hult Prize who tasked themselves with creating "sustainable, and scalable social enterprises that empower the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022" - Roshni Rides are planning their first deployment in Orangi Town, a large settlement in Karachi, Pakistan, where they seek to provide some 560 rides per day at just 13 cents per ride.
According to the Roshni Rides website, about 11 per cent of a refugee's income is spent on transport. An affordable transport system is therefore key to help improve the incomes and quality of life of those living in camps. But that's not the only potential benefit of this kind of system: it's also designed to provide residents with job opportunities.
How Will the Roshni Rides System Work?
While the project is currenty still in development, the idea is to begin with Orangi Town, where a number of Roshni Rides rickshaws will cover the entire settlement. These will be solar-powered vehicles that will run on batteries charged at Roshni Stations, where charging facilities for mobile phones and electrical devices will also be provided.
Users will be able to purchase and top-up a Roshni Card at any of the Roshni Stations set up across Orangi Town. These will act as storage and maintenance, as well as community hubs. Local communities will be active players in the system, which seeks to provide not just affordable transport but also job and development opportunities for the town's residents.
And any excess electricity generated through their Roshni Hubs is to be fed directly into the camp's grid during the night.
What's the Timeline?
Having become regional champions in the Hult Prize Competition, the team are now busy with their pilot in Orangi Town, and an eight-week summer accelerator program.
Pilot results at the ready and plan finalised, in September they shall make their final pitch to the Hult Prize jury, and be in for a chance to win one million USD in seed capital to bring their idea to life. Good luck to them!