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Empowering women and delivering electricity access to the off-grid population in Viet Nam

Dec 6, 2019

Viet Nam has good opportunities to develop gender-sensitive climate policies and development programmes that can foster mitigation strategies in the energy sector. There are already numerous successful pilots which have delivered encouraging results in providing the off-grid population with access to electricity through renewable energy technologies. Besides providing energy for lighting and cooking, off-grid solutions could be deployed to support the delivery of public services (e.g. education, health care) and the development of livelihoods by enabling productive end-uses (e.g. tailoring, agriculture).

In Viet Nam, 1.3 million people still lack access to electricity. As the costs of renewable energy technologies are falling, they become more affordable. Solar PV systems can cost-effectively bring electricity to rural provinces and do not rely on imported fuels.

Providing electricity access to the poor has far-reaching socioeconomic impacts that would benefit the country as a whole. Upgrading to solar powered lighting solutions holds big health, development and climate benefits. It triggers economic opportunities for beneficiaries and employment in the commune.

Women largely benefit from access to electricity as they bear the brunt of household chores, including the provision of food and fuel – tasks which may become more challenging and time-consuming as climate change contributes to resource scarcity. Switching to electric appliances thus enables women to spend more time on non-household tasks. Access to electricity positively impacts ‘empowerment enablers’ such as education, free time, and access to information programmes through television and radio (Winther, 2017). These enablers further contribute to closing the gender gap.

Rural households are able and willing to contribute to the costs of Solar Home Systems, a fact that has been demonstrated by local NGOs, such as the Vietnamese pioneer GreenID (Nguy, 2018). However, they need financial support to help them overcome the initial costs of capital. In this regard, different mechanisms exist that could be scaled up. They include collaborating with the Vietnamese Women’s Union (VWU), Viet Nam Farmer’s Union (VFU) and People Credits Fund (PCFs).

Increasing the penetration of small-scale solar PV technologies supports the country’s ambition under SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) while contributing to its mitigation and adaptation efforts, laid out in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) document.

This note showcases a private Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) in An Giang province. The results of the CBA are unequivocal; the Net Present Value of investing in a Solar Home System (SHS) is positive, delivering over 20 million VND after five years and the benefit-cost ratio reaches 3.5.

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