Seeking Your Support for the Project: "LIGHTNING KILLS! SAVE A LIFE IN AFRICA"

Photo For the last few years, we at the African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network (ACLENet) have observed that the number of lightning deaths and injuries across Africa is overwhelmingly high compared to the USA, Europe and other ‘developed’ countries and even when compared to other high lightning density countries like Malaysia and Singapore. While phrases such as “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” may be effective in developed countries where there are substantial and generally safe buildings, 90% of sub-Saharan buildings are not lightning safe. In fact, our research shows that the majority of multiple death reports in Africa involve people seeking shelter in the “permanent structures” available in their communities.

One tragic example involved the deaths of 18 school children from a single strike in 2011 with at least 38 others hospitalized (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/8606238/Lightning-strike-kills-18-children-in-Uganda.html) Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. In the last few years, nearly half of the newspaper reports of deaths in Africa have been to children at school.

ACLENet recognizes that we do not have all the answers to lightning injury prevention in Africa and may not be able to make substantial inroads until the general infrastructure and economy of the continent advance. However, we can invite you to start making a difference in one particular area: protecting schools, one school at a time. In protecting each school, we also hope that it will cause a ‘ripple effect’ as school children and their parents come to realize that they can have a part in controlling their risk. Behavior and belief may change only a little at a time, but, eventually, can have far reaching consequences as communities realize the school is a safe place for their other children and for themselves in storms and as they begin to learn about lightning safety.

With the help of contributors like DEHN-Africa and UltraTec, ACLENet has launched the “LIGHTNING KILLS! SAVE A LIFE IN AFRICA” campaign to protect schools, one at a time. Because the ACLENet headquarters in Uganda, a country with one of the highest lightning density in the world, we have started the project with schools in Uganda, the first four of which have had multiple deaths from lightning in the past. With the assistance of the Ugandan Statehouse, we will assemble a list of the most vulnerable schools in Uganda. As more national Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics are formed, we anticipate the spread of this campaign to those countries as well.

We have site visited several schools in Uganda and will shortly be publishing ‘portfolios’ on each school on this website to encourage donations and sponsorship. Individuals, companies, churches, and other organizations that would like to finance or provide a lightning protection system to a school (or schools) may contact ACLENet to initiate the process or may donate smaller amounts through the Paypal button on our website.

The lightning protection system for a given school should be designed according to the Standards IEC-62305-3 (2010) either by a qualified donor or by ACLENet (on request, with our pleasure). In either case, the design will be forwarded to an international expert committee for approval. While the implementation of the system may be done completely by the donor, if requested, ACLENet will be happy to pool donations, arrange the initial site visit for school measurements, design, order and import materials and arrange the installation through proper transparent channeling of funds. When a single donor is involved, they may place a visual display or plaque at the school highlighting their contribution and a notice of the contribution will be posted on the ACLENet website as well.

Classroom blocks of Runyanya primary school

Measurements being taken