Little Drops of Water Make the Mighty Ocean…

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Saving Electricity–One Bulb at a Time!

Waiting in line to exchange lightbulbs

On a crisp October morning, all across Bangladesh in 39 districts, they flocked to their nearest schools and community centers, clutching their electricity bills and carrying small bags of used incandescent bulbs. There was much excitement and curiosity in the air – people stood in long snaking queues, gathered to chit-chat and watch what was going on. Men, women and even children waited patiently; expectantly.

They were waiting for the second round of free distribution of energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to begin.

CFLs consume one-fifth energy compared to regular bulbs. At a time when Bangladesh’s power generation capacity is much below the energy demand, using CFLs can significantly help in reducing peak electricity demand.

This is great news for the energy starved people of Bangladesh, many of whom have to endure hours of power cuts every day. During peak hours, the country faces electricity shortages of about 1,500-2,000 MW. In some areas, this means power cuts for at least 6 - 8 hours a day! Using CFLs will save electricity and help the people cut back on their electricity bills.

The CFLs were distributed at over 1,400 rural and urban distribution centers. In the true spirit of community participation, school teachers, utility workers and volunteers from all walks of life pitched in to help with the distribution. One person could collect a maximum of 4 CFL bulbs by exchanging an equal number of used bulbs and showing a copy of their electricity bill.

CFL lightbulb at a tea stall

That evening, returning home from the distribution center, one young man was seen putting the CFL in his sister’s room. “I want my kid sister to be able to study properly, without power cuts, keeping her from finishing her homework. Using CFLs is my little contribution to bringing down our energy demand. I encourage you all to do the same.”

Another young man solemnly pointed to the CFL that he has been using in his small roadside tea stall. “I know this is just one bulb. But together if we all change one bulb at a time, we can certainly be more energy efficient during this time of acute power crisis. This is just a very small gesture on our part – but after all, it is the little drops of water that make the mighty ocean.”

And indeed, for the people of Bangladesh, it is these little efforts which will help inmaking a difference.


The Government of Bangladesh, with World Bank assistance, initiated the ‘Efficient Lighting Initiative for Bangladesh’ program under the ‘Rural Electrification Renewable Energy Development (RERED)’ project.

By October 2010, free delivery of more than 10 million CFLs to the people was completed. The Government of Bangladesh carried out the distribution in two phases. Bangladesh set a world record of distributing highest number of CFL bulbs in a single day when on June 19, 2010 the first round distribution of 5.5 million CFLs took place. On October 23, 2010, the remaining 4.5 million were distributed.

For more information, please read: Bangladesh sets a world record – 5 million CFLs in a day, one bulb at a time!


Naomi Ahmad

Communications Associate

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