Bringing Electricity to Rural NepalRATIONALE
Only about 40 percent of households in Nepal have electricity, and the demand for increased access to power, already high, continues to grow. Unfortunately, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the utility responsible for rural electrification, is unable to expand the power grid rapidly enough to meet the needs of would-be consumers.
NEA bylaws adopted in 2003 allow communities to purchase electricity wholesale and distribute it among themselves. This has been met with remarkable enthusiasm; a dozen communities that have been managing their own systems not only have cut pilferage and system losses but also have reached close to 100 percent collection rates. Community-managed rural electrification promises to become a major social movement, comparable to the community forestry movement of the 1990s.
Being capital- and technology-intensive, though, rural electrification faces challenges, such as defining the roles of NEA and new or existing institutions that can lead the sector while allowing communities to construct, operate, and manage their own systems. Financial resources must also be found, including large-scale government financing as well as bilateral and multilateral donors. A third challenge is to increase the capability of cooperatives to operate rural electrification both efficiently and equitably.
Project objectives are to support the government in developing mechanisms to respond to the demand for community-based rural electrification; to support technical capacity-building through the National Association of Community Electricity Users-Nepal (NACEUN); to demonstrate through pilot programs the function of micro-finance and tariff structures for achieving universal access within coverage areas; and to expand productive end uses for power in electrified areas.
Among other efforts, Winrock will assist in a study on the appropriate mechanism for rural electrification and support the government in drafting policies. Winrock also will help local groups identify households unable to get electricity because of lack of money for wiring and meter installation, help develop micro-financing for connection, and assist in implementing a tariff structure that allows even very poor households to pay for electricity. Winrock will help establish business-development services to identify ways in which local consumers can start and operate industries reliant on electricity, including the conversion of fossil- and wood-fueled businesses to electricity.
Expected results include creation of an institution dedicated to rural electrification. Several training sessions will be conducted on organizational and financial management; households will be assisted in obtaining electricity; new jobs will be created; and several enterprises will be established, expanded, and/or diversified through rural electrification.
Project accomplishments include: