Cambodian Women Farmers Benefit from Renewable Energy

Published on:
by KnowESG
KnowESG_Renewable energy helps women farmers in Cambodia
Image courtesy of Biosphoto via AFP/Claudius Thiriet

Gone are the days when Farmer Im Heng had to laboriously transport a diesel-powered water pump across her rice fields in Cambodia's southern Takeo province.

The cumbersome and expensive machine emitted harmful greenhouse gases, presenting both financial and environmental challenges.

However, a solar-powered solution has now replaced the outdated generator. Heng invested in a solar-powered pump that efficiently waters her fields through a sprinkler system, offering ease of use and manoeuvrability.

Additionally, this sustainable upgrade has significantly reduced her monthly electricity expenses by approximately 30,000 Cambodian riels (US$7), a substantial amount for a subsistence farmer.

Heng accessed this eco-friendly technology with the help of the EmPower programme, a joint initiative by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Women, that supports women entrepreneurs in obtaining affordable loans to invest in clean technologies that enhance their businesses.

The EmPower programme, a collaborative effort between UNEP and UN Women, is playing a vital role in supporting women entrepreneurs like Heng in countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

In these regions, where agriculture sustains most livelihoods, climate-induced disasters such as floods and droughts pose significant threats to food security and income stability.

Unfortunately, women face additional challenges in accessing financial resources, information, and technology, making it even more difficult for them to recover from crises.

The EmPower programme's second phase aims to address this disparity by providing innovative financing mechanisms that allow low-income rural women to access renewable energy technologies.

Renewable energy not only offers sustainability and reliability but also reduces operating costs compared to traditional fossil-fuel-based systems. Furthermore, the transition to renewable energy benefits women by mitigating indoor air pollution and respiratory diseases caused by using traditional fuels like coal, a particularly relevant issue in countries with limited access to modern energy services, such as Cambodia.

The EmPower project's positive impact is already evident, having empowered 473 women entrepreneurs and paved the way for scalable models.

The initiative has also facilitated the participation of over 50 women-focused organisations in critical decision-making processes concerning climate change, renewable energy, and disaster risk reduction.

Farmers like Duek Da from Takeo province, whose land has been severely affected by floods and droughts, have also experienced the transformative effects of solar-powered solutions.

Da relies on agriculture to support her family, including her two university-bound children. Since 2022, she has been using a solar water pump to cultivate corn and morning glory, providing her with a reliable water supply without depending on fossil-fuel-burning generators or the electric grid. Thanks to subsidies covering 60% of the costs, Da was able to invest in solar panels, resulting in long-term savings and a sense of security in her farming endeavours.

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Source: UN Women

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