In 2012, Sajid Iqbal was inspired by a video posted on his Facebook wall by a friend -- 'Litre of Light.' His interest was kindled by the combination of art and science, creating a technology he now calls 'Botol Bati'. In the video, Alfredo Moser, a Brazilian innovator and inventor of 'Litre of Light,' along with a group of MIT students, produced a 55-watt solar bulb, refracting sunlight with the help of old plastic bottles. These contained water and chlorine. It was powerful enough to light up a home, environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and easy to make.
Since then, Sajid Iqbal, a student of North South University, majoring in Environmental Science, took it upon himself to use this invention in the extensive slum areas of Bangladesh as most of them have illegal electric lines. It was not long before Sajid received the global partnership of Litre of Light, actively working in 12 countries to spread the initiative, including India, the Philippines and Switzerland. To create Botol Bati, Sajid gathered empty bottles, tin sheds (1 ft by 1ft), silicon glue, chlorine, clean water and a rivet screw to produce at least 60 watts of light.
“We covered the Baineabadh slum in Mirpur, where 300 families are benefiting from the Botol Bati project," says Sajid. "We installed 250 of them between April and August 2013 under the project of GIZ (German development co-operation)." Sajid and his team plan to cover all the cities in Bangladesh eventually. "We distributed our leaflets with our contact information in several slum areas in case slum dwellers want us to install the light," adds Sajid. "We also provided installation cards to the users, so that they can contact us if needed."
Sajid took his idea forward and presented it as a social business plan in February 2012 at the South Asian Youth Leader's Summit (SAYLS), organised by SAYLS and the US embassy. His model won second place, after which he received a small grant from the US embassy to do further research on its feasibility. His research work was also published in the UN habitats flagship campaign – “I AM A CITY CHANGER.”
He also recently founded a youth based volunteer organisation called CHANGE (www.change. org.bd), where Botol Bati has become their official project. "We are now focusing on the cottage industries in Bangladesh, where Botol Bati has a huge demand,” adds Sajid.
Sajid has received recognition through many international articles such as 'Plastic Bottle Lights up Slum (CNC World), 'Alfredo Moser: Bottle Light Inventor Proud to be Poor' (BBC), 'A Litre of Light' (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), 'Uncorking Bottled Light' (Searchlight South Asia) and more. CHANGE has already organised many workshops and seminars in different schools and universities to spread awareness and help more of the youth to join their cause.