Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp is located next to Piang Luang in western Thailand, and is home to over 500 Burmese refugees who fled the internal armed conflict within their country.
Because the Thai government sees the camp as a temporary solution, electricity is only supplied to public areas of the camp. This means that many refugees experience long hours of darkness in their homes after sunset. The lack of electricity in the homes made it difficult for families to continue with their weaving, schoolwork and cooking at night.
By August 2011 solar panels had been installed on all but six huts in the camp. We were able to raise the funds for the last six solar panel systems.
Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp was established in 2002 when over 500 people, led by a village headman, fled the fighting between the Burmese and Shan armies in their villages in Southern Shan State, Burma.
Because the camp is seen as a temporary solution for the refugees until it is safe enough for them to return home, the Thai government only allows for electricity to be supplied to public areas. The lack of camp-wide lighting negatively impacted the quality of life for most residents.
Without electricity camp residents experienced many hours of darkness after nightfall – usually around 6:30pm in Thailand. People often used paraffin lamps and candles as a solution, but this posed a high fire risk to their flammable huts made of thatch, wood and bamboo.
In a similar but much bigger camp in Thailand, over 1.000 huts burned down during a fire in early 2012. In March 2013 tragedy struck another small camp when more than 40 residents died in a fire that destroyed around 400 huts.
Goals and Results
By August 2011 solar panels had been installed on all but six huts in the camp. In September 2011 we secured funds to purchase and install solar panels on these remaining six huts. The solar panels provide a safe lighting alternative to the paraffin lamps and candles that the Koung Jor residents previously used.