DEEPTO: THE SOLAR HOME SYSTEMS - BRINGING LIGHT TO OFF-GRID COMMUNITIES
British American Tobacco Bangladesh
The company provides solar home system units free of cost to households and each unit helps the beneficiaries to lit lights, run fan, charge mobile phone and even play television.
INTRODUCTIONBritish American Tobacco Bangladesh has been responsibly operating in Bangladesh for 107 years and is one of the pioneers of CSR in Bangladesh. BAT Bangladesh’s 3 CSR programmes are aligned with 9 out of 17 UN’s SDGs and certain National Goals of Bangladesh. Some parts of greater Chittagong, especially the off-grid hill tracts area, had predominantly been deprived of electricity. The absence of electricity brings a halt to people’s lives almost always after sunset. Hence the inception of ‘Deepto’.
Deepto was initiated by BAT Bangladesh with the objective of enlightening the lives of people in the off-grid areas with the blessing of electricity for the first time. Provision of electricity is not only their right but it also allows them to maintain an improved living standard. Deepto aims to illuminate the lives and bring an impactful socio economic change in the hilly landscapes.
FRAMEWORK AND STRATEGYDeepto is a simple and affordable approach to properly utilize renewable energy and generate electricity. People of the intervention areas are provided with the 3G-SHS solar home systems installed in their households and the package includes solar panel with 20 years’ warranty, 3 LED light with 5 years’ warranty, optimizer and battery with 5 years’ warranty etc. This system has no UV or Mercury related hazard. The system collects solar energy throughout the day and then the energy is converted into electricity to meet the needs at darkness. To enable people with access to this green energy, BAT Bangladesh along with its valued partner ‘Solaric Inc’ strategizes and implements the solution. The company provides solar home system units free of cost to households and each unit helps the beneficiaries to lit lights, run fan, charge mobile phone and even play television.
It is a continuous and round the year process by BAT Bangladesh local team and its valued business partner that involves site survey, product installation, maintenance, monitoring, hotline service, reporting etc. Although solar system was not a completely new concept in Bangladesh, but Deepto is a unique project due to its exemplary implementation and outcome.
ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPACTDeepto is a 7 years old project that started in 2011 to bring electricity for the first time in the lives of off-grid hill tract people. Till date, BAT Bangladesh has installed 2,064 units of solar home systems in 23 villages of Bandarban, Kharachari and Rangamati districts, providing electricity for the first time to more than 12,000 people.
Now the people of intervention areas can do many incomes generating activities such as knitting, basket weaving, handcrafts, paddy threshing, raising poultry etc. and their children can study after sunset which was not possible before. Academic results of the children of beneficiaries have improved radically after Deepto came to their lives. Women feel safe to move about at night and people are no more afraid of snake-bites and other dangers. People no longer need to endure the risk of fire at home from traditional lamps, candles, fire lanterns, etc. Deepto has changed the social and the economic condition of the beneficiaries and has improved their livelihood significantly. This programme supports Bangladesh Government’s agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Goal # 1, 4, 7, 8).
FUTURE DIRECTIONDeepto is believed to be a prospective project to continue considering its integration with the business as well as the UN SDGs and Government’s Vision 2021. This project has multiple significant outcomes as it has improved the overall living standard of the beneficiaries. Therefore, the project was expanded in many hill tract areas of Chittagong division, over the years. People who did not get the solar home systems yet, are eager to avail solar power after witnessing others enjoying solar power through Deepto. This creates a demand and a need to further continue this project and extend to other off-grid areas. This is an indication that there is a need to continue this project to accommodate the needs of these off-grid people.
The company aims to ensure electricity to each household of hill tracts and plans to continue this programme relentlessly in the years to come. BAT Bangladesh keenly drives to support Bangladesh Government’s national agenda as well as United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through this project.
British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) is a part of BAT plc, the world’s leading tobacco group, with brands sold in around 200 markets around the world. The Company is a stock exchange enlisted company managing a diversified portfolio of shareholders.