Solar Energy for Community Resilience in Nepal (SECuRe)

Over 2 750 people in three villages in Surkhet, Nepal, are still living with the impact of the 2014 floods. The project aims to increase community resilience to economic and climatic stresses in this rural off-grid community through the use of innovative renewable energy technology.

Project Need

Project Outcome

The project will achieve four principal outcomes, measured through rigorous evaluation at the end of the second year of the project, namely:

  • 300 households (1,650 individuals) on the floodplain will benefit from the flood warning system.
  • 2,750 individuals (from 500 households) will have access to energy-enabled health services. With energy access, the health post will be able to operate at night-time and refrigerate vaccines and medicines, increasing their capacity to provide preventative and curative local healthcare.
  • 50 households, 10 small enterprises, a school and a church will have access to electricity for domestic lighting, fan operation, and small business development (eg grocery stores, mobile phone charging, pharmacy and agri-veterinary services).
  •  A decrease in fossil fuel use and a resulting decrease in respiratory problems and eye and skin irritations caused by the use of kerosene.

Project beneficiaries include a high proportion of women and young girls, as well as Dalit and Janjati people, who are subject to extreme discrimination. The project will directly benefit 2 750 individuals in 500 off-grid households in three communities. The feasibility phase will seek to identify additional downstream communities who could benefit from the flood warning system.

Project Updates

By working closely with the community and the local government, the initial project was adjusted to better fit with the communities’ needs.

A stand-alone solar systemwould be installed to power flood warning system and Health Post – responding to the most pressing needs of this community for access to improved health care and flood warning.

A pilot project for the solar microgridwould also be initiated in Srijana Bazaar in Simta Rural Municipality – where the project could bring significant livelihoods and resilience benefits.

Solar Powered Flood Warning in Bherichaal-Chepang community

A stand-alone solar power system for the Health Post, benefitting 706 households (3,883 individuals).

A solar-powered flood-warning system, benefitting 300 households (1,650 individuals) on the flood plain.

Solar Microgrid in Srijana Bazaar community

A solar-powered micro-grid providing 33 electricity connections, including 31 households running small.

The microgrid will benefit 146 people with electricity access and improve health for up to 2,000 people in the health post catchment.

Activities conducted in Berichaal-Chepand community in 2018-2019 – Solar Powered Flood Warning

The installation of the solar generation system has been completed.The Health Post has been connected to the energy supply since September and the energy system is functioning well, powering lighting, fans and a refrigerator and, as of late November, delivering energy- enabled services to the whole community. The Renewable World team has continued to help with supervision of the system the months following the installation.

As the community is situated only few meters above the river water level at the confluence of the Bheri and Sodh Khola rivers, it has been hit by floods several times – sometimes with disastrous economic, social and environmental consequences. Early flood warning systems play a vital role in preventing damage and loss of life, both human and livestock, and the loss of cultivated land; they thus have a critical role to play in resilience building.

To address this problem, Renewable World has completed the installation of a low-cost, easy operating flood warning whose component parts include: a solar panel, battery (for energy storage so the system can operate outside daylight hours), an information receiving/processing unit, and an alarm system (a verbal warning message followed by a siren). The warning system receives real time data on rainfall and river water level, which is recorded by hydro-meteorological stations upstream.

The flood warning system has been placed on the roof of a school building situated close to the centre of the community to limit any possible obstruction to the warning message/siren. The Renewable World team has been monitoring and following up on the system performance and helping the community managing it.

Activities conducted in Srijana Bazaar community in 2018-2019 – Solar Microgrid

Srijana Bazaar is in Simta Rural Municipality, 3 km away from the nearest grid line. Renewable World ensures that the solar microgrid is designed to be able to link to the national grid in the future.

The following activities were carried out in 2018-2019

  • Community and stakeholder consultations and hearing: conductions of meetings with local stakeholders to share information on the project, the implementation approach, etc. Discussion on the community’s role and responsibilities in the project. All stakeholders expressed strong interest – knowing the need for electrification in their community as a basis for improving livelihoods.
  • Detailed Feasibility Study and Design: carried out feasibility to understand the community’s energy demand and load profile and to inform the desgn of the solar micro-grid system. An Energy Demand Survey was also conducted among 33 potential energy users – information used to calculate the total energy demand required by the community. Based on the information collected, a 7 kW system was proposed.
  • Finance Literacy and Good Governance Training: training aiming to strengthen the skills of the construction/ energy management committee members in the project management – including understanding and delivering their roles and responsibilities, maintaining transparency, accountability, acting in a participatory and inclusive manner. Training on record keeping for income and expenditure transactions, on the importance of opening and maintaining a project bank account, etc.
  • Baseline survey: Capturing the current situation in the community completed in 72% of the total households.

Planned activities for 2020

SECuRE is on track to deliver all activities by the end of October 2020. By working on two different locations to pilot new technologies for solar powered flood warning and solar microgrid, the original objectives can be delivered and reach many more people than originally anticipated with access to clean and affordable solar powered systems – helping to strengthen livelihoods and resilience in these remote and poor communities.