Installation of bottle lamps. Photo uploaded to The Daylight Project’s Facebook page.
Members of the Daylight Project organisation have been roaming around Kampala’s poorest slums to bring a little light to its cramped homes, where it is dim even in the middle of the day. These lamps don’t require electricity: they work with just water bottles and pieces of sheet metal.
The technique, which is already used in several very remote areas around the world, is simple and cheap. You only need a plastic water bottle filled with two litres of water and 10 mL of bleach to prevent bacteria growth. The water bottle is placed in a hole in the rooftop and secured with a piece of sheet metal.
Workshop in Kamwokya. Photo uploaded to the Daylight Project’s Facebook page.
Unlike a mere hole in the roof, a water bottle, when filled with water, diffuses light more widely within a home. In the slums, dwellings are often built very close to one another, and very few actually have windows, which means the interiors are very dark.
The bottle lamp after installation. Photo uploaded to the Daylight Project’s Facebook page.
Energy usage rates in Uganda are among the lowest in the world. Only 12% of the country’s population is connected to the electricity grid.

“We estimate that, to date, we have impacted the lives of about 500 people”

Jennifer is an activist working for the Daylight Project.
So far, we have trained 350 people in this technique, built over 250 lamps and installed over 100. We estimate that, to date, we have impacted the life of about 500 people living in the slums. The project has also created jobs, because we’ve hired trainers to lead workshops in the community.
The project keeps on growing. We have already worked in six neighbourhoods. Now, residents are coming to us to ask us to hold workshops in their communities.
Photo published on the Daylight Project’s Facebook page.
With little time and limited funds, this system considerably improves a household’s quality of life while decreasing spending on candles, kerosene or electricity. The next step is to expand to the countryside areas outside Kampala.
“One woman insisted that we set up the bottle right above her sowing machine”
When we arrive in a new zone, we ask community members to select who will benefit from the demonstration lamp. Each time, they select the home of an elderly woman with dependent children.
Video of a lamp installation in Kisenyi II zone, Kamwoky.
Following a demonstration workshop in the slum Kisenyi III, our team went to help a woman install her light. She wanted the lamp to be installed on the back wall of her home.
We explained to her that the light would be less strong there than if we installed it in the middle of the ceiling, but she kept insisting and we gave in. Later, when we came back, we understood that she was a seamstress and wanted to install her sowing machine under the lamp to be able to work at home.
Children watching an installation taking place at their school. Photo uploaded to the Daylight Project’s Facebook page.