Supporting community energy needs through simple technologies

Jun 14, 2016

Village teacher Daw Thein Ei Mon and her students from Ka Naing Hton, an ethnic Pa’O village in Shan State.

Daw Kyawt Kyawt, a schoolteacher from Kyaung Lwe village in Hopong Township in Shan State of Myanmar said, "When I joined this school about two years ago, I found that ethnic Pa'O school children could not read and write very well. So I decided to spend additional hours after work to improve their reading and writing skills."  

Since then, Daw Kyawt Kyawt spent her evenings conducting catch-up classes for ethnic Pa'O students. When darkness fell, the village teacher and students lit candles and continued their learning.  

"Candle light was the only choice we had. On windy nights, the strong wind came through the broken bamboo walls and blew out the candles. It was so difficult for my students to do their homework under such conditions. The candles were quite expensive, costing up to 1,500 kyat per day," said the teacher.

Responding to the water and electricity needs of rural communities the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with Mercy Corps and with the Department of Development of Border Areas and National Races recently distributed multi-function solar systems and community water filters to 100 rural communities in Mon, Kayin and Shan states.  

The needs were prioritized by the communities themselves. For example, people from Kyaung Lwe village decided to use a multi-function solar system for their children’s evening classes. Daw Kyawt Kyawt said, “Now we do not need to worry about lighting. I am happy that my students have sufficient light to do their homework.”  

Daw Kyawt Kyawt and her ethnic Pa’O students from Kyaung Lwe village with their new multi-function solar system.

Communities are also responsible for using and maintaining the technologies. Kun Nar villagers developed a simple but innovative way to ensure water filters are beneficial to everyone in their village and will last for years.

A community leader said, “The water filter’s built-in taps are made of plastic, so they can be broken if used too frequently. Therefore, we built a small concrete container for keeping our two water filters by the village rice bank provided by UNDP some years ago. The filters are connected by a plastic pipe to water buckets inside the rice bank and are constantly filtering water. This way, we prevent damage to the taps.”

A villager from Kun Nar village filling water into community water filters attached to the village rice bank.

Daw Thein Ye, a community member from Kun Nar village said, “Everyone in our village can get safe water from the buckets inside the rice bank anytime they want.”

Martin Jensen, UNDP Myanmar, said, “We are pleased to respond to the communities’ needs for electricity and clean water. The community assets are part of an initiative to increase access to innovative and affordable technologies for rural communities.”

The work is made possible with funds from Japan, DANIDA, Finland and UNDP and technical assistance from Kopernik.

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