Girl power: Nigerian teens invent urine-powered generator
Temitayo Olofinula is a journalist for the Global Press Institute (GPI). The GPI trains girls and women in developing countries to become investigative journalists and produce professional reports on local news. The full version of this piece appeared in the Global Press Journal.
When teenager Adebola Duro-Aina read a story online in July 2012 about nine members of a family dying from a generator's carbon monoxide fumes, she says she thought about what she could do to provide a safer alternative source of energy.
Only 50 percent of Nigerians had access to electricity during 2009, and many families that do are forced rely on multiple generators to meet their daily needs, such as powering washing machines, TVs and fans.
"I was sad about how people died while trying to provide electricity for themselves, trying to make their living better," Adebola says from the chemistry laboratory of Doregos Private Academy, a secondary school in Lagos. On the wall beside the blackboard reads a quote from Charles Darwin: "Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive."
When the next academic year began in September 2012, Adebola enlisted three friends - Oluwatoyin Faleke, Eniola Bello and Abiola Akindele, all students between 14 and 15 years old in her science class - to help her find a solution to the problem.
The team decided to design a generator that ran off an alternative fuel that wouldn't harm users, and so began the tale of how four teenage girls in Nigeria invented a urine-powered generator to create better - and safer - access to electricity.
The after-school project sparked interest nationally and internationally after it was exhibited at Maker Faire Africa, and the girls now hope to partner with larger companies to produce the alternative generator on a mass scale.
All this was possible because the teenage girls were still in school. Just imagine how many innovative solutions to the world's problems there could be if all teenage girls were given the same educational opportunities.
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Read the full story of the urine-powered generator
Global Press Institute © 2012