NAM institutions promoting South-South Cooperation for Rural Hydro Power Development

NAM’s role in interregional is enhanced by the Non-Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation (NAM-CSSTC) and its efforts of organizing training programmes and enhancing the capacity of the Non-Aligned Movement Member Countries. It goes beyond that rural development is an integral part of overall development programme of the developing world. Rural development encompasses infrastructure such as road, bridge and electricity.

Among these, access to electricity is an essential prerequisite for rural development. However, many developed countries still face a problem of limited electricity production, and hence limited supply. One of the solutions to counter this shortage is developing micro hydro energy that is relatively cheap, sustainable and appropriate for small communities.

Micro hydro is a type of hydroelectric power that typically produces up to 100kW of electricity using the natural flow of water. These installations can provide power to an isolated home or small community, or are sometimes connected to electric power networks. Micro hydro is considered a “run off-river” system meaning that water diverted from the stream or river is redirected back into the same watercourse. Adding to the potential economic benefits of micro hydro is efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness.

The Non- Aligned Movement Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation (NAM CSSTC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) of Indonesia shared its experience with other developing countries through International Training Programme on Micro Hydro Power for Rural Development.

The participants discussed about the following issues, namely, Introduction to Renewable Energy; Basic Knowledge of Micro Hydro Power (MHP); Technical Engineering of MHP; (4) Financial and Economic Aspects of MHP; Sustainability and Environmental dimensions of MHP; Productive Use of Electricity; and Community Development. 8 developing countries, of NAM namely: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam were participants in the program held in Bali, Indonesia in April 2016. Many NAM Member States of South Asia have successfully harnessed the potential of micro hydro power in the process of rural development. India is one such major country where this potential is being harnessed to the optimum. India has considerable experience and is home to several innovations and successful examples of providing energy access through renewable sources of energy to the remotest areas of the country.
These also have a scale-up potential in other parts of the world. It has also been well established that the cost of decentralized renewable energy decreases in comparison to conventional grid-powered electricity. The MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), Government of India, has been pioneering the electrification of such remote villages by providing subsidy for setting up hydel projects of different capacities. The Bikhi MHP (Micro Hydel Project) of 2 × 15-kW capacity is one such project constructed under the subsidy assistance from the MNRE under the RVE (remote village electrification) programme.

In the Indian state of Karnataka, there has been a significant development in setting up of pico-hydro projects in the last decade or so. Chembu village in the Coorg District of Karnataka has seen a major change due to installation of pico-hydro systems. The village is surrounded by forests and is typically inhabited by poor farmers who had no access to electricity but had almost perennial streams running through their habitation. Today, about 80 houses in the village have installed these and the village has become a becoming a 100% pico-hydropowered village.

The micro-hydro power projects in the rural areas of developing countries have catalysed a host of significant changes that include increase in income, work sharing, leisure time, and community initiatives; sanitation and cleanliness; awareness and empowerment; management of local natural resources, protection of forests, and sustainable practices of land utilization. They also encourage community participation. The approach employed by the communities in rural areas has effective combination of traditional values of concern and flexibility, which is reflected in factors such as the timing of power supply, collection of fees compensation for services to operate the plant, and other end-use machineries. Overall, the harnessing of micro hydel energy is within the NAM objectives of harnessing the growth potential to the optimum in rural areas in the developing countries of the global South. In this regards, the efforts by Member States such as India, and that of NAM related organisations such as Centre for South-South Technical Cooperation are praiseworthy.

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