The Border Green Energy Team @ Mae Sot

The Border Green Energy Team (BGET) has been working along the Thailand/Burma border since 2005 with the mission to implement renewable energy and sustainable technologies and also demonstrate how these technologies are integral and economically viable aspects of improving livelihoods. Technologies utilized by BGET have included solar electricity, micro-hydro, bio-digesters, solar cooking, water pumping, and water purification methods. These solutions have been provided to beneficiaries in ethnic Karen villages, refugee camps, Burmese migrant schools, children’s homes, medical clinics, and for other emergency relief organizations working along both sides of the Thailand/Burma border.

Renewable Energy

Energy, specifically electrification, is the backbone of development. However, globally one person in five lacks access. Of those without access to energy, 84% live in rural areas, such as in the villages on the Thailand-Burma border region. These villages, located on remote forested mountains, do not have basic grid-connected electricity resulting in both short and long-term health and safety risks, and decreased productivity. At night, villagers depend on light from candles or kerosene lamps that are unreliable, expensive, and pose a serious fire risk, exacerbated by the fact that homes are often constructed in clusters using bamboo, dried leaves and other natural materials that can easily catch fire. Firelight and kerosene lamps also produce toxic fumes that negatively impact family members’ health, particularly children, and can create chronic pulmonary health problems. Villages without electricity are not fulfilling their full productivity potential. The chore of gathering wood for fuel and firelight, tasks most often delegated to women, can occupy a considerable portion of one’s day, reducing families’ overall economic productivity. The inhabitants of remote villages are also left more vulnerable as they cannot receive important weather and news updates without televisions or the ability to charge cell phones.

The Border Green Energy Team in collaboration with The Branch Foundation installed a total of three retrofitted governmental systems, and 20 solar lanterns/mobile phone chargers. They recruited, trained, and hired 1-2 local technicians and salespersons to provide maintenance services. The number of beneficiaries is estimated to be more than 140 local villagers.