The Wayuu people reside in small rural villages called rancherias near the Venezuelan border in northern Colombia. They engage in fishing and artisan crafting for survival. They have almost no access to electricity—like many million people around the world.
The coastal nature of many of these communities served as the inspiration for a sustainable solution to their energy needs. The WaterLight, invented by Colombian renewables startup Edina in a joint effort with Wunderman Thompson, has changed the lives of the Wayuu community by supplying reliable lighting and charging capabilities.
Inside the portable device, saltwater sparks an ionization reaction, creating sufficient electrical energy to produce light and charge phones and radios. Just half a liter of salt water can generate 45 days of electricity.
The community played a major role in creating the lamp’s design. This was made with a weighted base to outstand wind and sand in a desert climate and to withstand upright fishing canoes. “You see WaterLight, and you see Wayuu culture,” says Pipe Ruiz Pineda, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson Colombia. About 50 Wayuu families now have Waterlights due to this invention.