Humphrey Alumnus Wins Sustainia Community Award

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Humphrey Alumnus Wins Sustainia Community Award

On November 7, 2013, Humphrey alumus Illac Diaz (Philippines, MIT, 2005-2006) was awarded the Sustainia Community Award in Copenhagen, Denmark for his Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag) initiative.  The Sustainia Award is an annual international award given to a solution, technology or project with a significant potential to help build a more sustainable future.


Since completing his Humphrey Fellowship, Illac has founded the MyShelter Foundation, which he used to launch the Liter of Light campaign. Liter of Light is a grassroots solar movement that empowers the most under-resourced communities through the creation of livelihood programs. The organization trains those from low-income regions to assemble locally sourced, sustainable, and affordable solar products.


The title of the campaign, Liter of Light, is named for a plastic bottle filled with water and a small amount of bleach. Inserted through the roof of a house, each solar bottle refracts sunlight with the intensity of a 55-watt bulb. According to the Sustainia Guide to 100 Sustainable Solutions, volunteers and local entrepreneurs using simple tools and basic carpentry skills can light up their communities for just $2 per solar bottle. The nighttime upgrade with a solar panel retails at $10. Built by grassroots entrepreneurs and women’s groups in the Philippines, the cost of finished goods are reduced by 40%. These bulbs are particularly useful to hundreds of millions of families that live in informal housing settlements that have only small window that limit the amount of light that is let in.


 Liter of Light has grown from one home in Laguna, Philippines to 350,000 lights in 10 countries in just 20 months. Three hundred and seventy grassroots solar entrepreneurs have been trained during that time, with each entrepreneur servicing an average of 1,100 homes per year. The campaign hopes to reach one million homes by 2015.


Liter of Light was of particular interest to the theme of the 2013 Humphrey Fellowship Global Leadership Forum, “Confronting Global Challenges: A focus on Climate Change”. Illac was invited to present the Liter of Light and other innovations at the Global Leadership Forum.


To learn more about the Liter of Light campaign, please visit

For more information on Sustainia and the green movement, visit


In the photo, Illac Diaz receives the Sustainia Community Award.