Establishing a successful village energy committee (VEC) will play a critical role in the functioning of this energy project. The purpose of the VEC is to own, operate, maintain and manage the energy production and distribution facilities in the community. As a result, the VEC will help to ensure that the solar nano-grid  is used efficiently as research shows that there is a clear correlation between strong village leadership and how well the grid functions.

The communities were supported to hold fair and open elections to form their VECs, ensuring that the VEC was representative of each community and included those who would not traditionally be in leadership positions.

Working with the VECs are the in-country partners, who play an important role in overlooking the VECs and ensuring their success.

There are specific roles and responsibilities to be considered when establishing a VEC in Lemolo B and Echareria, such as

  • To record monthly operational and maintenance data for forwarding to SONG
  • To meet at least once a month to review plant operation, and review revenue/expenditure data
  • To conduct a discussion on a quarterly/semi-annual/annual basis for the auditing of assets/inventory databases
  • To consult with community members regarding the project’s progress
  • Assess current and future energy needs
  • Manage personnel i.e. security and technicians
Community governance, however, is not without its challenges. The persistence of certain issues has the potential to dissolve VEC’s and jeopardise the entire energy project if not quickly addressed.

Such issues include:

  • Poor maintenance (battery replacement, cleaning of solar panels)
  • Villages/communities unwilling to pay for communal systems that only provide light with no possibility for income generation
  • Political disagreements, changes in leadership or lack of financial motivation
This is not yet implemented in Bangladesh, and the role of the in-country partners play more of a role of governance, however it is currently in discussion to introduce a VEC to both sites in Bangladesh.

Community talks in Bangladesh

Community VEC meeting in Kenya