We have recently put together a team of ‘Solar Awareness Raisers’ to provide solar technology advice and education to rural Cambodian households and inform them about the introduction of the first ever quality assurance scheme for solar products in the country.
The scheme was created by the AFD/EU-funded Solar Microfinance Programme. Given the low awareness of solar technology in rural areas as well as the low trust and misconceptions, the Awareness Raisers fulfill the crucial function of making solar technology better known and stimulate demand for the products.
55 weeks of awareness raising ‘road shows’ are being organised, in close collaboration with certified solar suppliers. This way, the programme will reach out to more than 100,000 community members through school engagement, women groups and evening community events. All activities are designed to be highly interactive, engaging and entertaining, and build on tried-and-proven adult learning methodologies for solar education.
The implementation of the first campaigns started in July 2016 in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, and Kampong Chhnang provinces, and will run for the remainder of the year. Initially designed to reach 500 to 1,000 participants per week at commune level, the first four rural awareness campaigns were met with much larger interest than expected. More than 250 children received education about solar energy through the campaign’s school engagement activity, and over 150 people participated in the Women’s Group events each week. Each campaign week wraps up with an evening programme, gathering on average 1,000 to 2,000 people from the targeted communes.
Early feedback from solar suppliers is encouraging – with some reporting increased sales and higher recognition levels in the target communes. In addition, their rural sales agents are now devising strategies for the implementation of follow-up promotion to keep the sales up after the campaigns.