South African firm  Lumkani has received €1,000,000 (just under R 20 million). Lumkani is a low-cost solution providing community-wide alerts for fires in informal settlements.

This comes after Lumkani took top honours at the European Research and Innovation Days event for the EIC Horizon Prize on Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid.

The prize is funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. It rewards the best, proven, cost-effective, technology-based solutions for humanitarian aid in five categories: shelter and related assistance; water, hygiene and sanitation; energy; health and medical care; and an open category. The winners, one per category, each received € 1,000,000.

Lumkani’s LHP product won the Shelter and related assistance category.

LHP is a low-cost solution providing community-wide alerts for fires in settlements such as slums or refugee camps.

Fires in informal settlements are caused by several hazards – open flames, paraffin lamps and stoves, and electrical faults.

People have been trying to deal with the threat of fires in two ways: insurance so that they can recover quickly from a fire, and technology to prevent fires in the first place

Lumkani, an organisation started in 2014, offers fire insurance to residents living in informal settlements. For R70 a month, Lumkani installs a fire detection alarm and pays out up to R40,000 within five days. Monthly fees can be paid in cash, and the company offers a grace period for anyone who can’t afford a monthly payment.

To date, Lumkani has installed approximately 40,000 fire detection devices, primarily in Johannesburg and Cape Town. They have also installed 4,000 devices in Bangladesh.

Lumkani fire detectors measure the rate of rise of heat, rather than detect smoke. This means that when the temperature in a shack starts to significantly increase, the device will detect the heat change and set off an alarm. If a gas cooker is placed directly underneath a Lumkani device, the sudden heat change will set off the alarm


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