Rural electrification in Nepal: Experiences of an integrative social contextual approach

Rural electrification in Nepal: Experiences of an integrative social contextual approach
Authors (non HEDON members)
Kavita Rai
The word ‘electrification’ conjures up bright lights and urban expensive high technology powered gadgets, often considered as an unlikely intervention for the poor. This has led to the slow rate of high-grade energy technology intervention in remote or rural areas of developing countries, where over two-thirds of their total population live. However, there have been successful cases of bringing in electrification, in the form of micro-hydro plants (smaller than 100kW usually), solar or biomass options to light up rural areas. Apart from lights and domestic usage, they provide energy to power small scale industries as well. Nepal has had almost a two and a half decade of historical experience in bringing electric power to its villages, initially with mechanical systems to run milling machines and later when electrification came in the 1970s. Some systems are as remote as 7 days walk away from the main roadhead.

In Nepal, electrification projects are no longer seen as technical interventions alone. Practitioners and critics conclude that ‘electricity if targeted at the poor alone’ would not be a realistic approach. This is often because the poor alone cannot risk the heavy financial investments that are required to build and maintain an electrical system. In addition, the lack of proper feasibility studies, quick assessments, and non-participation of the beneficiaries has led to failures in some cases. However, alternative approaches are widely applied in electrification development interventions. The need to get communities actively involved is becoming a crucial factor for sustenance and improved livelihoods. This article is based on some of the Nepali experiences in the micro-hydro sector.
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Title in French
Electrification rurale au Népal: Expériences d’une approache sociale intégrée
Abstract in French
Au Népal les projets d’électrification ne sont plus limités aux aspects techniques. Le besoin d’associer les communautés est devenu un facteur important pour l’amélioration du niveau de vie. L’énergie hydro-électrique est utilisée pour alimenter de petites unités industrielles. A travers plusieurs études de cas, l’auteur considère que l’approche à privilégier doit concilier les ressources naturelles nécessairs au fonctionnnement du système électrique et le potentiel culturel, social et économique des communautés et des individus.

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BoilingPoint45    Electrification    Rural    Nepal    MicroHydro   

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  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

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