man in construction helmet
The RE Power Group's CBG project benefited about 153,000 people

Long-running fund management programme in the Greater Mekong Subregion comes to an end

Phase II of the EEP Mekong Programme was completed in May

26. Jun 2019

Launched over a decade ago and following the completion of two phases, the Energy and Environment Partnership with the Mekong Region Programme (EEP Mekong) came to a successful close this past spring. Funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the programme aimed to combat the effects of climate change while bringing renewable energy to the unreached citizens of Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. NIRAS was contracted to handle the fund management and technical assistance for both phases.

Technicians installing a biodigester

Technicians from ATEC installing a biodigester, which will go on to generate biogas and organic fertiliser for the family that purchased it

EEP Mekong was designed as a challenge fund to provide early-stage financing to innovative clean energy project developers in the Greater Mekong Subregion who were in the process of building business partnerships, including with Finnish companies as a part of Finland’s transition from aid to trade in the region. The programme also provided technical assistance and capacity building services to project developers and industry stakeholders in the region.

The EEP Mekong Programme not only contributed to the success of several landmark projects, but was the catalyst that made them happen.

Gustaf Godenhielm, the RE Power Group

In addition to this, EEP Mekong served as an important cornerstone in the development of NIRAS’s fund management activities and was a pilot project during the development of the SmartME online fund management and monitoring and evaluation tool. Lessons learned from the programme went on to influence the preparations and development of all NIRAS’s fund management programmes.

Woman with solar light

The Engaging, Enriching, and Enabling Women Solar Engineers for Community Solar Electrification in Myanmar Project empowered 21 women to install and maintain solar home systems in their communities

During Phase II (2014–2019), the programme changed its challenge fund’s approach to make payments based on the achievement of previously established goals. EEP Mekong also concentrated on funding what it considered “catalysing investments”, i.e. larger, more bankable projects that had a high scale-up potential and a demonstrable ability to source their own funding. Across four calls for proposals (one of which focused on feasibility studies to stimulate further investment in mostly waste-to-energy projects), EEP Mekong Phase II offered EUR4.1 million in grants to projects valued at EUR14.8 million.

Biogas plant retrofitment

Retrofitting the KIT biogas plant to produce compressed biogas (CBG)

Over the course of the last five years, over 190,000 people benefited from funded projects’ activities, for example through access to renewable energy, employment, the generation of new income sources, and health or environmental improvements. Close to 225 companies benefited from Phase II activities, of which 40 derived direct benefits.

Woman working in the saw dust pellet factory

MACDI's saw dust pellet factory project employed 160 people (of which 157 are women) as wood waste gatherers and factory workers

Of the projects funded during Phase II, 63% proved to be highly scaleable. Several project developers are planning to scale up or replicate their activities elsewhere. Phase II’s funded projects generated 7 MW of energy in the form of electricity and biogas and avoided 141,800 tCO2eq in greenhouse gases.

EEP Mekong supported us with knowledge and gave me the power to build a project that will transform domestic waste into electricity.

Dinh Thi Minh Thai, Director of MACDI


Using SmartME

EEP Mekong used SmartME for fund management and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). SmartME is an online tool that supports the management of electronic call for proposals cycles from the project proposal design phase to screening and evaluation.

Benefits of using the SmartME system, according to EEP Mekong’s Regional Coordination Unit:

  • Helps project developers submit their applications, concept notes, and project proposals
  • Straightforward results framework builder
  • Ensures all documents are uniform and stick to the requested template/format
  • Automated evaluation and scoring of proposals
    Modern collaboration tool that ensures all project information is found in one place
  • Simplified tracking and visualisation of calls, projects' progress, and impacts achieved
  • Easy to find, print, or edit documents, which supports knowledge management
  • Remotely accessible for all stakeholders