Cambodia: Impact of Lanterns Heard through Recipient Voices and Seen by Numbers
We received a report from the Cambodia country office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that provides emergency assistance as well as support for mid-to-long term recovery after disasters.
Dear Friends at Panasonic,
Hello, this is LAK Mony Rasmey, Country Support Plan Coordinator at the IFRC Cambodia country office.
The solar lanterns that you have donated are being used by more than 900 people in about 180 families living where we work in Kampong Thom province, Kratie province, and Preah Vihear province.
The world has seen a growing number of floods, droughts, and other natural disasters in recent years and Cambodia has been no exception. In the great flood of August 2011, at one point, more than 1.6 million people were forced to evacuate. Among them, people in poor rural regions that are especially sensitive to environmental impact have been forced to lead harder lives as a result of disaster.
Our activities start from emergency relief immediately following a disaster and currently, we provide various kinds of support with eyes set on recovery of the region. The solar lanterns are used to improve living standards of the most vulnerable people who have been robbed of their livelihood due to major natural disasters.
The ways of using the compact and easy-to-carry solar lanterns are diverse and they are being used in various facets of everyday life. For example, mothers busy with housework and farm work during the day would cook in the dark once the sun went down. However, housework can now be finished faster with the light, which means more time to spend with their children. One mother told us, "It is a helpful light when feeding my baby at night."
In another example, one night, a villager was hit by an ox-drawn carriage in the dark but thanks to the light of the solar lantern, they were able to bandage him and provide adequate care. Had it not been for the light, his injury might have worsened.
Here are some other examples of solar lanterns changing people's lives.
Until now, small shops selling food would close by 6:30 p.m. since they had to use costly kerosene lamps for light. Now, the solar lanterns have helped them extend business hours until 8:30 p.m., which means that people in the community can shop even after dark, and shop owners have been able to increase their income.
Others have started new businesses for people in the community, building on the solar lantern's ability to charge mobile phones. They have opened charging shops for mobile phones, which are popular even in rural areas. A part of the 3,000 to 5,000 riel (about 84 to 145 yen) in daily sales is used to provide food to poor people in the village.
Solar lanterns light up the lives of Cambodians, helping to improve the lives of these people who are determined to keep moving forward regardless of the hardships caused by natural disasters.