United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Power Backpacker:Mobile electricity service brings better life for left-behind families

Wenzhou Electric Power Company of State Grid Corporation of China (
Private sector

    This project has been launched in Taishun, a county in southern Zhejiang Province, China, to help residents in remote mountainous areas and small enterprises obtain easy public power services. Taishun is a mountainous area with scattered residential zones and inconvenient transportation. About 54,000 left-behind seniors, without Internet knowledge and equipment, had to walk 1.2 hours to handle power services offline to meet their demand for electricity. To ensure that residents there can get reliable power services like other people do, Wenzhou Electric Power Company of State Grid Corporation of China designed the Power Backpacker project, assigning project members there to assist them to save troubles and improve their living quality.


    The project aims to achieve the following goals by optimizing infrastructure and service mode: 1. Develop high-quality and reliable power infrastructure for mountainous areas that help local residents, schools and enterprises access to power services so as to improve their living and working environment, and boost the development of local economy; 2.Provide local residents with reliable tips about power safety and how to handle services online by face-to-face communication, so as to cultivate their safety awareness and ability to use the Internet, improve their habits, promote behavior change, and finally empower them. 3. Potentially to expand the extra value of this project form, such as visiting vulnerable families and providing guarantees for residents during COVID-19.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    We believe that this practice can support SDGs 7 / 10: SDG 7: By providing mobile power service terminals, this practice can solve the inconvenience in power usage caused by geographical and technical factors for mountain residents, which means that we can provide affordable and reliable modern energy services for communities. SDG 10: The tips we provided in the project will enhance the capability of local residents and help them better integrate themselves into the Internet era and master more scientific living tips and abilities to use the Internet.

    Implementation methodologies

    Planning and execution: 1. The project was launched in 2018. We set the working standards after field investigation, and then trained personnel and made the material list: a backpack with all kinds of necessary and portable power service equipment and materials. 2. We provide services in two forms: 1) Project members go to remote villages with tools in backpack and offer community residents: a) power related services with 18 options; b) check and maintain the power usage of local communities to troubleshoot potential safety risks; c) deliver skills and tips such as "quick access to services via the Internet", "safe power usage", "clean power". d) Collect and analyze data about other living needs of local people and enterprises to optimize service mode or develop new service. 2) While providing power-related services, we also seek partners to jointly carry out other services. We have cooperated with village committees and operation personnel of e-commerce companies in the communities. We provided trainings for them, so that they can offer basic services and expand the scope of beneficiaries. Monitoring: The project is managed the "leading-controlling- execution" mode. We set the assessment criteria and performance bonus to stimulate backpackers. In addition, we have special supervisors for regular spot checks and follow-up visits to local communities (accounting for over 30%) to ensure the authenticity and effectiveness of data and service. Resources: We have trained 59 backpackers, established 60 outlets with e-commerce companies and over 150 with village committees in communities. The salary for backpackers is RMB 3,200-4,200 per person per month. Other physical resources such as paper materials and maintenance tools cost low since they can be reused.


    In the past three years, our services have covered all villages in Taishun, providing over 120,000 door-to-door services and handling 13,350 power services for local residents. Our monitoring shows that the number of local seniors handling services on foot dropped from 95% before the project to 7% now. We have helped about 48,000 residents. after we built 73 km of 10 kV distribution lines, 144 km of 0.4 kV low-voltage lines and 43 distributors and transformers, we have replaced other polluting energy sources with electricity for 73 enterprises and assisted 11 homestays powered all by electricity. By improving the quality of power usage, we promoted the economy of local villages. Meanwhile, we pay extra attention to local left-behind families and groups in need when offering door-to-door service, providing them with more cares in addition to power use.

    Factors and Constraints

    Our practice benefits from many enabling factors: First, China's policy encourages the online services to save citizens' time of handling business offline, which provides a context for our cooperation with local governments. Second, this practice originates from the national power supply department with sufficient personnel, technologies and equipment, thus effectively controlling the cost. Third, China's advanced e-commerce and logistics industry has helped us expand the scope of practice. We have not encountered any obvious obstacle yet.

    Sustainability and replicability

    On the premise of professionalism and stable resource input, the key of our practice mode is the flexibility of technical personnel. It is easy to organize and coordinate, and the cost of upgrading is low. It is replicable for government departments or business organizations that need to provide public services to remote mountain villages. Also, because it can bring various types of benefits to other stakeholders and partners, it is easier for us to gain long-term resource support. In 2020, we turned the project into a brand and started promotion. We have been interviewed by several media, and made a well-recognized micro film Your Backpack. We have also established cooperation with public security bureaus, banks, hospitals and set up the Backpacker Alliance. We plan to hold an experience sharing meeting, formulate a standard work manual and promotional pictures, and integrate all service providers within the county into our alliance.

    COVID-19 Impact

    COVID-19 has limited impact on this practice on condition that backpackers have adequate prevention measures. On the contrary, in earlier 2020 when the virus was raging in China, the practice of power backpackers never stopped, which ensured the reliability and safety of local power supply during the pandemic prevention period, and guaranteed the power supply of key pandemic prevention departments. We also held visits on pandemic preventions in cooperation with the local government to publicize China's power policy of "supply despite arrearage" during the period and provide other pandemic prevention information, which helped to reassure residents and facilitate the local pandemic prevention and control.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    08 May 2018 (start date)
    31 December 2020 (date of completion)
    Contact Information

    Jingjing, Publicity Manager