News 2011

Brighter and more affordable lighting for villagers of Salavanh province

In Sept 2011, as a result of a collaborative project to bring mobile lighting solutions to remote villages in Laos, Sunlabob and the German Embassy of Laos installed Sunlabob Pico Solar Lanterns in 5 Salavanh province villages.

Replacing kerosene lamps, the solar lanterns provide lighting for activities such as cooking, eating, and reading, and can also be used for charging cell phones. A total of 5 battery charging stations with 50 lanterns each were installed, benefitting over 1,130 villagers.

"This lantern is comfortable and safe. Moreover, we save up to 75% in lighting bills, and whenever we show people from other villages, they want to have one too." says Khankeo Salithithapong, a Salavanh province villager.

Majority of Salavanh’s villagers are rice farmers who earn less than USD 1 per day. They produce enough to eat but not much to sell so they often cannot afford even the most basic amenities.

Prior to the installation of the solar lanterns, each household had 2 kerosene lamps, using 1 litre of kerosene over a period of 6 days. For the solar lanterns, villagers only pay 1000 kip per charge, half of which goes to the maintenance fund and the other half goes to the salary of the Village Technicians (VT) and Village Energy Committees (VEC). The involvement of the local community also provides a way for individuals to participate and make a profit. Moreover, the lantern burns more cleanly so there is no dangerous indoor emissions.

As all 5 villages are located within close proximity to one another, Sunlabob conducted a centralised training session for all VTs and VECs. The training, lasting 3 days, comprised of an accounting training as well as a technical training for the VTs and VECS. To ensure transparency and efficient financial management of the system, the accounting training is extremely crucial as it teaches the VTs and VECs how to collect charging fees and manage the Lantern Maintenance Funds. The technical training also ensures that the VTs can resolve common issues in a timely manner.

In about one-two months, Sunlabob will return to the villages for a checkup and coaching visit. The goal of this visit is to:

  • Ensure that the training has been understood properly;
  • Train the VEC/VT again if needed;
  • Check the accounting and rental log;
  • Check the money in the Lantern Maintenance Fund;
  • Get feedback from the villages about the system;

For more information on the Sunlabob Pico Solar Lanterns, please click here.