Fighting Injustice with Solar Power 

In Bala, Uganda, scarce electricity perpetuates cycles of injustice. Fighting back against injustice—whether it’s abuse from an employer, a landlord, or a spouse—is challenging when citizens have no way to research and understand their rights. And only those with ample resources can seek legal counsel.  

A new partnership between SELF and BarefootLaw—a Ugandan legal aid organization—aims to address this through a pilot project known as the “Justice Microgrid.” The Justice Microgrid is a 14.25-kilowatt solar-electric system that is set to power municipal buildings, public spaces, and a new community center where people can seek free legal assistance, known as the “BarefootLaw Box (LawBox).” The project aims to create a more inclusive and transparent justice system that works for everyone, regardless of income, age, gender, or other factors. 

The LawBox 

Local people can visit the LawBox to access information about their rights, mediation with remote legal teams, and assistance with court appearances.  

BarefootLaw originally launched the LawBox in 2022. However, inconsistent electricity limited its ability to serve local people. Bala is connected to Uganda’s national electric grid, but like in many rural places, the grid experiences frequent and long-lasting power outages. As a result, people would come to the LawBox seeking help, but be unable to access documents, connect with lawyers, or simply see the room around them after dark.  

With the new solar electric system, this will no longer be a concern. The Justice Microgrid will reliably power lights, device charging, internet, video conferencing, and more to ensure that no one will be turned away during local blackouts.  

Community Resources 

The Justice Microgrid will power a variety of additional services in the community. Electricity will be extended to the courts, town council, police station, and community development office. Once electrified, these entities can better collaborate with each other and with LawBox staff. This fully electrified justice ecosystem will create more resources for the people of Bala, especially low-income and marginalized individuals.   

Streetlights 

Three solar streetlights will also be installed as part of the project, illuminating the community market and pathways. Police data reveals a significant uptick in crime after the sun goes down. The lights will create a safer environment for vulnerable community members and extend the hours available for commerce and local gatherings.  

In addition to serving the people of Bala, this project aims to provide a model to expand justice services in other communities. 


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SELF is a global leader in the fight against energy poverty. Since 1990, we’ve pioneered unique applications for solar energy, powering progress on food security, health care, education, gender equity, and more. 

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