The first set of fieldworks for DREAM “Why Renewable Energy Projects Fail or Succeed?”- Project has been started and completed in the Nam Bak district. The Nam Mong demonstration project on micro hydropower implemented in cooperation with New Energy Foundation (NEF) of Japan and the Lao Government (former Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts (MIH)) has been providing electricity for seven villages and now will be connected to the national grid. It has been referred by many as one of the most successful donor funded projects in terms of micro hydropower based rural electrification efforts. Altogether 7 village leader interviews and 21 villager interviews were completed together with one focus group discussion on the impact of electricity to rural livelihoods. Meetings with Provincial office of Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and Eletricité du Laos (EDL) together with visits to all of the impacted villages namely Nam Mong, Vang Hinh, Pak Mong, Vang Kham, Phonhome, Houay Ang and Mok Vek took place during late April and first weeks of May.
During the interviews with various people of these villages many good stories and laughs were shared and genuine sense of unity inside the communities was observed throughout the visits. Equally importantly many of the villagers expressed their views and opinions on their lives, livelihoods and electricity. The children were happy and curious as they are supposed to be, running around and playing between the bamboo houses, swimming in the Nam Mong river, while mothers were washing clothes. Most of the people were already anxiously waiting for the rains to arrive, preparing and finishing the last dry season activities under the strong sun, some dried tobacco, many were preparing rice for storage, some were fishing while others were sawing and preparing wood for house building.
A mere thank you is not simply enough to express the gratitude for having us in the villages and sharing your time with us but at this point a “khob chai lai” or as the Khamu´s say “Khoprenjee Maak Maak”( forgive me the spelling)is needed. The information of the study will be later on also disseminated on the web pages for everyone to see so be alerted.