Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bright idea gives light relief

Bright idea gives light relief

Bright idea gives light relief


An NGO aims to reduce the use of expensive and environmentally damaging kerosene lanterns by distributing LED replacements in rural Cambodia

Photo by: Bennett Murray

GERES Village Entrepreneur Supervisor Narein Sourn shows off a rechargeable lantern.

A NEW initiative by French environmental  NGO GERES aims  to shine a light on energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint in rural areas from inefficient kerosene lanterns.

GERES Village Entrepreneur Supervisor Narein Sourn said the lack of a national power grid meant people in rural villages usually relied on kerosene lanterns for nighttime illumination, which was bad on many levels.

"The kerosene lamp is not good for the environment, and [villagers] spend much money to buy kerosene," he said.

It costs bewteen 200 and 400 riels to keep a lantern burning on kerosene for four to five hours, she said.

As an alternative, GERES has introduced longer-lasting, cleaner LED (light-emitting diode) lanterns to the countryside at the same price that villagers currently pay to run a kerosene lantern.  

The lantern has now become a tool

to empower


GERES rents the lanterns to central village operators, who in turn charge villagers 300 riels a night to rent the lanterns.  

The lanterns can operate 12 hours a night for five days before the battery needs recharging.  

At the end of the five-day period, the villagers return the battery to the village operator and are given a new one.  The distributor then recharges the battery with a diesel-powered car battery and rents it out again.  

GERES Eco Business Development Manager Ruben Mahendran estimated that the village distributor can make $45 a month in profit from the rentals.

Whereas villagers will typically burn 250 mililitres of kerosene a week with traditional lanterns, the LED lantern batteries only require 12.5mL of diesel to keep them charged for a week.

Furthermore, the LED lights do not expose the entire household to indoor pollution from the toxic fumes.  The flammable kerosene also poses a fire hazard to rural homes.

GERES hopes to use solar power in the future to make the system truly environmentally friendly.   

Not just green

In addition to the increased efficiency of LED lanterns, they also provide better lighting than kerosene lanterns, making it easier for students to study at night, according to Narein Sourn.

"Children cannot study very well with the kerosene, because the lamp is not bright enough," he said. "People can also work later into the night on economic activities such as weaving, silk-making and fishing."

GERES has run the project as a pilot program in five villages in Kandal province and has thus far distributed 300 lanterns.

"The lantern has now become a tool to empower households," Mahendran said.

GERES has also been conducting market research in Kampong Chhnang with the intention of expanding the project.  In the future, GERES hopes to make a profit from the rentals that can in turn be invested in further rural development projects.


  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement