In the autumn of 2015, Alexis Granier and Nicolas Piquemal carried out an assignment on behalf of the Cambodian branch of French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde (EDM). EDM works on projects in developing countries, focusing on improving the living conditions of impoverished populations. The actions it undertakes address the issues of access to energy and economic development, using micro-finance schemes. Alexis and Nicolas helped EDM enhance the efficiency of its actions to improve access to (renewable) energy for communities living below the poverty line (daily household income lower than two dollars).
The assignment comprised the following main tasks: improvement of the method used to select areas suitable for deploying autonomous solar power solutions, methods for choosing deployment strategies once the areas have been selected, methods for continuously improving the areas covered, and creation or use of IT tools to perform these tasks efficiently.
To accomplish their assignment, Alexis and Nicolas started preparing it in France several months prior to their trip to Cambodia by collecting data, performing studies, and starting to prepare their methods. Their presence in Cambodia made it possible to pinpoint EDM’s expectations and requirements, to test the methods considered in the field, and collect information to draw up lessons learned. Upon returning to France, Alexis and Nicolas drew up a report and have since then continued to collaborate with EDM teams.
Noteworthy fieldwork includes:
· Training of EDM teams on GIS software, at their branch office in Phnom Penh,
· Interviews with villagers and village heads to determine their needs in terms of energy,
· Determination of the GPS coordinates of power distribution lines and characterisation of roads and access routes in rural areas,
· Monitoring of sales agents working for local social company Pteah Baitong (Cambodian for “green house”) during their daily work, etc.
…while travelling on a motorbike through the bright green, blue and red scenery of rice fields in the sunshine.
The beneficiaries of these actions and Artelia’s volunteers greatly appreciated this experience, the outcome of which has clearly demonstrated its usefulness. The human relations, the fieldwork involved and the immediate improvements for the people living in precarious conditions meant this project was as fascinating as it was rewarding.