Solar power enables livestock vaccine storage in rural Laos

Solar-powered cooling systems will soon enable safe storage of critical supplies such as livestock vaccines and medical equipment in rural villages of Laos.

Sunlabob Renewable Energy, a social enterprise specialising in renewable energy and clean water access projects in developing regions of the world, will partner with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos to supply, install and provide community training for these solar-powered refrigeration systems.

Eight solar-powered cooling sets, comprising one refrigerator and one freezer each, will be provided to villages in the southern Laos provinces of Sekong, Savanakhet and Salavanh. Up to 4,000 people are expected to benefit from this initiative. The project was awarded through ADB’s competitive bidding process and is scheduled for completion by the spring of 2013.

Until now, these villages have been unable to properly store important vaccines and critical medicines. They are also affected by limited healthcare and education opportunities as well as no access to the national electricity grid.

“Access to renewable energy provides a multiplier effect that is critical to sustainable rural development,” says Andy Schroeter, Sunlabob Renewable Energy co-founder and CEO. “Solar energy is not only enabling the refrigeration of vaccines – the carry-on benefits in these communities include improved healthcare and better economic opportunities.”

Each set includes a 700 W energy capacity to produce electricity for the refrigerator and freezer which each have a storage capacity of 166 liters. Sunlabob will not only be responsible for installation and maintenance of the refrigerators and freezers, but also the procurement of the goods and the training of the villagers. This community-based approach, which focuses on capacity building in the local population, helps ensure the longevity of the systems – technically, socially and financially.

Sunlabob has honed its operational models not only in Laos, but also throughout Southeast Asia, Africa, India and the Pacific Islands. In an earlier, 2012 partnership with ADB and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the company delivered 44 solar-powered cooling units across five provinces in southern Laos.

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