Energy is the backbone of development, yet thousands of communities in Southeast Asia, including a large proportion of ethnic communities settled on the Thailand-Burma border, do not have access to basic grid-connected electricity. Lack of access to a reliable source of electricity creates both short and long-term health and safety risks. During the evening hours, villagers depend on light from candles and kerosene lamps that are unreliable, expensive and accompanied by very serious fire risks.
With the experiences implementing renewable energy projects, especially solar power over a decade, Border Green Energy Team (BGET) has strengthened the sustainability of the project by setting up a social enterprise, SunSawang, providing solar home systems (SHSs) and lanterns, and training for rural villages along the Thailand-Burma/Myanmar border since 2013. The enterprise empowers the local through hiring and training village technicians and salespersons to provide solar products and after-sales service to remote communities. Previously, these villages, located on remote forested mountains, did not have basic grid-connected electricity supply resulting in both short and long-term health and safety risks, and decreased productivity. At night, villagers depended on light from candles or kerosene lamps that are unreliable, expensive, and pose a serious fire risk. SunSawang has been installing solar systems for households and schools which provide power for basic appliances such as light, computer, phone charger and television. While the villagers are paying off the equipment with 5-year service contract in an affordable amount. This innovative approach increases the sustainability of the project as well as helping the villagers to earn more income for their families through evening productive activities, improving overall living conditions of the target communities.
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