Small Scale Entrepreneur Helps with HCFC Phase-out in Cambodia Mon, Dec 28, 2015

Training cooling system technicians is essential to phasing out ozone-depleting substances in Asia Pacific.

Po Vanda in his shop in Phnom Penh

Standing amid refrigerators and air-conditioners that have come in for repair to his shop in Phnom Penh, busily giving instructions to a small team of technicians, Po Vanda is the picture of a successful small-scale entrepreneur. Stacks of new units packed in cartons stand nearby while split air-conditioning units are displayed neatly on wall mountings.

The growing demand for Po Vanda's repair skills got a further boost after he attended the Good Refrigeration Practices training organized by Cambodia's Ministry of Environment and the Compliance Assistance Programme (UNEP CAP) of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) OzonAction.

The workshop enabled him to hone his skills of improving energy efficiency of cooling units, helping him to broaden his customer base and significantly increase income.

A sceptic when he first heard about the training and its benefits from fellow technicians, Po now wants his staff and colleagues to attend future training sessions if offered again.

"The training gave me new skills and expertise and improved my servicing skills for refrigeration and air conditioning. I also learned how to identify what is the best energy efficiency equipment and advise my customers," Po said. "It is beneficial for technicians to attend this type of training as refrigeration and air-conditioning technologies are evolving fast. Technicians also get a chance to practice and interact with experts from the government and the private sector."

Po's training is part of the Cambodia Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) Phase-out Management Plan supported by UNEP CAP in Asia Pacific. He is among 2200 refrigerator and air-conditioning technicians, most of them informal sector workers, trained in Asia Pacific between 2012 and 2015.

"The UNEP Compliance Assistance Programme is playing a crucial role in helping promote awareness and skills among technicians in the refrigeration and air conditional sectors who mostly operate in the informal sector," said Pak Sokharavuth, Deputy Director of the Department of Pollution Control in the Cambodian Ministry of Environment.

"With the new generation of non-ODS refrigerants coming into the market that also have global warming potential and health and safety issues, training the large pool of technicians that maintain and service cooling systems in the region is absolutely essential," he added.

For Po and his team, the training also brought greater understanding of the impact of his business on the environment. "By learning good practices, I am able to reduce the use of harmful ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and use best handling methods so they are not released to the atmosphere as happened before," Po said.

Along with training of technicians, the UNEP CAP programme also helps countries implement and sustain commitments under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the ozone layer. It builds high level political support for the agreement, forges public-private partnerships and provides networking opportunities for National Ozone Units to exchange experiences, develop skills, and share knowledge with counterparts from developing and developed countries.

With this assistance and through partnerships with UN entities, countries in the region have successfully met obligations to phase-out HCFCs. HCFCs have been reduced by 18 per cent from the 2009-2010 established baseline. It has also led to the early phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon tetrachloride (CTCs) and methyl chloroform in the region.

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