News 2011

Sunlabob brings light to floating villages in Cambodia

On Nov 24, 2010, Sunlabob, with the assistance of the Cambodian Renewable Development Team (CRDT) and accompanied by the Ministry of Environment, conducted a site assessment at Kompong Prohot and Anlong Ta Ur, two floating villages in Battambong Province, Cambodia. The project, known as the Green Growth Flag, is a major part of the regional capacity building programme for development and application of green growth policy tools, developed by UNESCAP with funding support from KOICA. The site assessment is part of the preliminary stage of a pilot project which aims to identify how best to develop a sustainable village enterprise for implementing Sunlabob’s award winning Solar Lantern Rental System (SLRS).

During the site visit at the two aforementioned villages, the assessment team met with village heads and members of the Village Commune Council in a meeting to discuss how the SLRS works, its business model and how best to integrate the SLRS into the village community. Based on input from village leaders, a Village Energy Committee (VEC) was created to oversee the system, and a Village Technician (VT), whose task was to operate the SLRS, was selected. The team later interviewed individual households to get a better sense of socioeconomic conditions. Following that, the solar lantern was introduced at a village meeting that attracted over 70 villagers. During these sessions, Sunlabob readily addressed concerns about cost and usage.

The lanterns are meant to be a green replacement for kerosene and diesel-fueled lamps and to provide quality light that even the poorest in the village can afford. When asked what they thought about fuel-based lamps, villagers complained of the poor quality of its light (that flickers in the wind), the smoke given off, burnt mosquito nets, and fear of a house fire (which has happened in one village already some years ago.)

Sunlabob and CRDT will return in late January to install the solar charging stations at the VT’s house in each village, which will take an engineering adjustment to allow for changes in orientation and location of the floating houses throughout the year for optimal solar energy conversion. The installation team will hand-over the lanterns to the village after providing technical and business-oriented training for the VEC and VT. In the process of setting up the entire initiative it will be necessary to explain to the village community very clearly that this business enterprise will not be selling the lanterns to the villagers, but selling light by the hour. Once the SLRS has been installed, Sunlabob and CRDT will maintain regular contact with the villages in order to address any unforeseen issues. After three months of operation of the stations, the success of the village businesses will be compared on the basis of sold hours of light serviced by each solar charging station and a Green Growth Flag award will be awarded to the winning village.

This project is the very first Green Growth pilot project in the Asian and Pacific region. In Feb 2009, the National Green Growth Secretariat was established in the Ministry of Environment, whose primary task has been to support the Inter-ministerial Green Growth Working Group formed in May 2009 to hold repeated consultation meetings for the development of a National Green Growth Roadmap. After successfully having developed the National Green Growth Roadmap, the second important task of the National Green Growth Secretariat is to develop and implement a pilot project for the application of green growth. In Sept 2009, a field mission was conducted with assistance from two international experts from the Regional Helpdesk on Sustainable Consumption and Production to identify candidate villages for a Green Flag Programme for Green Villages to be established as part of the pilot project.

The Green Growth Secretariat will support the process of inception and implementation of the project, and will develop and conduct the awarding ceremony for the winner. However, the real business will be completely conducted and managed by the local floating village members with only formal involvement of the government in the process.

For further information, please visit the United Nations ESCAP Green Growth website.