NGO Develops Mini Hydro-Power Stations
Aug 26, 2009 - All Africa Global Media
Three regional countries are set to benefit from
mini-hydro-power stations being developed by a local
Practical Action has started pilot projects in Manicaland
to ensure communities and farmers in marginalised
areas have access to electricity. The project involves
generating power from small sources of water such
as waterfalls and perennial rivers.
This is a regional programme aimed at benefiting
Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. The project came
after a realisation that energy was a major challenge
in most communal areas with some areas being marginalised
and failing to access conventional electricity.
Speaking at the Harare Agricultural Show, Practical
Action project manager Mr Fungai Matahwa said Manicaland
was identified as the most suitable area because of
its terrain and availability of perennial rivers.
"The project is localised, electricity is transmitted
over a short distance making it cheaper than conventional
electricity or even generators that require fuel.
"It is costly for people in these mountainous areas
to have electricity so we want to ensure the communities
benefit from local natural resources in their areas.
"The hydro-energy source is environmentally friendly
and renewable,"said Mr Matahwa. He said the project
had resulted in the electrification of local boarding
schools, clinics and households with some people now
being able to operate their grinding mills using the
"The response from the community has been overwhelming.
In Zimbabwe we have three projects in Nyanga, Cashel
Valley and Nyamarimbire and we are looking forward
to starting a new one in Chipendere in Mutare.
"The people are so much interested in irrigating
their crops, processing them and storing them under
refrigeration and this can only be made possible by
the availability of power," he said.
Mr Matahwa, however, said the introduction of the
projects had led to developments in the area and improvement
in health and education delivery systems. The project
manager said he hoped the programme would be expanded
for it to be commercialised.
"We would want to see a situation where the community
continues to generate the energy source and even sell
it to other nearby areas. "In countries such as Peru
and Nepal, rural communities generate electricity
from the minor sources of water and sell it to urban
communities improving their livelihoods in the process,"
said Mr Matahwa. The beneficiaries of the projects
pay a tariff, which is channelled into a fund used
in the development of the communities.
Locals can borrow from the fund to develop their
enterprises. "We also want to venture into training
of the local people to manufacture parts of the machine
used for the power generation such as turbines and
this is set to create employment for the community,"
said Mr Matahwa.
Practical Action aims to target 15 projects set to
benefit about 45 000 households.
The NGO is working in conjunction with the Ministry
of Energy and Power Development, Zinwa, Environmental
Management Agency, Zesa Holdings and local authorities
among other organisations.