ADRA Germany: How renewable energy changes life in Vietnam

ADRA Germany: How renewable energy changes life in Vietnam

The people who live in these remote regions lead a strenuous life of poverty because there is a lack of sustainable energy sources.

March 03, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | Anna Lefik, CD EUDNEWS.

Located in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam, Bao Lac amazes visitors with its natural beauty and ethnic diversity.  The rice field slopes create streams flowing through the scenic countryside. It seems ideal but it is deceptive. The people who live in these remote regions lead a strenuous life of poverty because there is a lack of sustainable energy sources.

A project was set up by ADRA in the district of Bao Lac for the climate-resilient agriculture and renewable energy. The project has already significantly changed the lives of the people for the better.

Hydro power brings life in homes

"When we didn't have electricity, it was all dark, quiet and monotonous. In the evening the family gathered together in the house, but could not do much. The children went to bed early and did not study anything for school. I know that some children dropped out because they did not come to class. Then we got electricity and light came into our village. That changed our lives," says Xuyen, who lives with her family in the remote village of Na Tong. Thanks to a hydroelectric plant, the family finally has power and light in the evenings.

Mrs. Dao is 79 years old, hers is a story of sadness and hardship. According to traditional customs, she married early, was very unhappy and eventually was left alone: 

"I felt I was a burden on my family. When I was young I could not find any work to support my family and as I got older I was limited by my deteriorating eyesight. Thanks to the new lighting in the house I can now see much better and again do light housework. Despite my age, I finally feel useful again in my family!"

Biogas protects the environment and health

An average household in the mountainous regions of Vietnam has four pigs and two to three cows or oxen. The use of animal waste for biogas production is a practical solution to permanently generate energy for households and at the same time protect the environment.

Trieu Van has twelve pigs, but the animal waste caused him worry:

"We use part of the waste in the fields as fertilizer. But there is a lot left over, for which we couldn't find any use. Til now, there was no place where we could collect the debris. When cleaning the animals, the water seeped along with the feces around the house and the environment and our health was at risk."

With the new biogas plant, all animal waste can wisely be used. The plant is a closed system and helps to reduce air, soil and groundwater contamination. In addition, below the stables, basins were constructed in which the animal waste is collected and forwarded directly to the septic tank. This considerably reduces the bad odour.

The Thong family consists of five adults and a small two-year-old child. They need a bundle of wood per day. The volume doubles in the winter and adds up to 30 cubic meters of wood per year.

"Collecting firewood is the responsibility of my wife and daughter. They have to go a long distance, sometimes up to four kilometers to reach the forest. This work is tedious and time-consuming," said Thong.

"With the conversion to biogas, there are many positive changes in our lives. The water boils faster, there is no harmful smoke coming in the house anymore and nobody has to take the strenuous path to fetch firewood. But the most important change is that fewer trees are cut down and the fertile soil is protected!"

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