Principal Investigators: Dr Rebecca Ford and Dr Sara Walton
Lighting Vanuatu commenced on 1 May 2010 as a two-year project. It sought to address Vanuatu’s “energy poverty” by increasing access by rural householders to handheld solar lanterns, thereby reducing household dependency on the use of kerosene for lighting. Lighting Vanuatu aimed to deliver at least 24,000 solar lanterns through the use of a supply-side subsidy from Australia Aid. This subsidy aimed to:
• Improve upstream finance;
• Make solar lanterns more affordable;
• Reduce the geographic challenges posed by remoteness;
• Increase consumer awareness; and
• Improve product quality.
In this project, researchers from the University of Otago worked with RDSM Consulting to evaluate the Lighting Vanuatu program.
Energy is fundamental to daily activities, and access to energy services is a crucial element to alleviating poverty, enabling both social and economic development, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However, approximately 75% of households in Vanuatu do not have access to electricity. Furthermore, Vanuatu’s population is spread across many islands, resulting in small, remote and widely dispersed communities, driving up the capital cost of installing and maintaining electricity infrastructure. Consequently, many communities rely on kerosene for lighting, which is often associated with fire risks, indoor air pollution, and carbon dioxide emissions.
To address the issues of kerosene lighting, the Lighting Vanuatu project, funded by Australian Aid, provided Vt38.0m in grant funds to two Vanuatu NGOs already actively promoting and delivering pico-solar products throughout Vanuatu.
The Lighting Vanuatu project seems to have delivered twice its expected sales of solar lanterns, resulting in more than 50% of households across the country now using solar lanterns. This massive change has occurred concurrently with a substantial reduction in the use of kerosene for lighting over the 2009 to 2013 period.
Our research aimed to explore the uptake of solar lamps in Vanuatu in more detail. In particular, we were interested in:
• Any geographic, social or cultural trends evident in these adoption patterns;
• Any economic or social benefits – both overall, but especially for women and youth;
• Specific changes in the lighting technology used by households;
• Changes in household practices associated with any shift in technology;
• Any changes in householders’ perceptions of solar lighting, and the use of lights more generally;
• Changes in householders’ perceived needs and aspirations with regard to lighting, and electricity more generally; and
• The effectiveness and sustainability of pico-lighting products and the pico-lighting marketing/distribution chain.
Walton, S., Doering, A., Gabriel, C.-A., & Ford, R. (2014). Energy Transitions: Lighting in Vanuatu (Project Report).