Case study

Community Managed Micro-Hydro Program in Chitral, Pakistan



>5M $






Remoteness does matter, but the villagers of Hindu Kush mountain are not without power. Water is abundant. AKRSP set about funding and building MHPs. AKRSP involved the villagers from the outset. They were set up to manage installation and maintenance. By 2014, 140 systems had been installed supplying electricity for domestic and commercial use

Project Description

AKRSP has assisted the rural communities of Hindu Kush mountain of Pakistan to use their water resources to produce clean energy for lighting, cooking/heating and commercial purpose. With an innovative model, AKRSP developed capacities of rural households in organizing themselves in to local organizations and mobile their own resources to address the acute issue of unavailability of power in the remotes scattered valleys of the region. Only in Chitral region, AKRSP provided financial and technical assistance to communities to construct more than 140 ( total 12 MW) small hydro units with local technology. These units provide electricity to more than 16,000 rural households (around 150,000 individuals) in Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunhwa, Pakistan. Initially the focus of the program was to provide the rural families with electricity for lighting purpose, however, with improved capacity of the organized communities, with relatively larger units, the households are now using the clean energy for heating, cooking and productive activities. The technology appeared to be simple and it includes diversion of the water from mean stream, run the turbine with appropriate vertical length of pen-stock, and connect generator to turbine. AKRSP has also helped the service providers who manufacture local turbines with improved efficiency and affordable price. Through a maintenance committee and community utility company, the communities operate and maintain the projects.


16,000 households (150,000 individuals) 32 scattered valleys of f Chitral are benefiting from these units. In addition, the local entrepreneurs also enjoy the energy with low tariff as compared to state provided electricity (urban areas). The women also use energy for productive activities.


Following are the key results of the MH projects of AKRSP: ^ Improved quality of life of people due to better communication, economic, educational (extra time available in evenings and nights times for study) and health outcomes (reduced smoke inside house/kitchen) . ^Reduced workload of women due to less fuel wood collection and use of power based home appliances including butter churners ^Increased opportunities for productive work and income generation (small businesses) particularly for women who are involved in making craft and woolen products. ^Improved environmental outcomes and new carbon trading opportunities. ^Improved awareness through access to information facilitated by electronic media such as television, internet and mobile phones ^ Other development organizations and Government replicated the model of AKRSP's MHP ^ AKRSP received the Green Oscar (Ashden) Award for Sustainable Energy-2004 and Global Development Network for Most innovative Development Project-2006

Business Model

The model includes formal involvement of communities through Village Organization and clear Terms of Partnership, where the community shares the cost (20-30 % of the total cost). AKRSP provides financial and technical assistance for designing and construction of the units. AKRSP also builds the capacities of dedicated maintenance and management committees who are responsible to run the systems sustainability by collecting user fee and ensuring community contribution in case of repair.

Lessons Learnt

^ For comparatively larger units, the operation and maintenance of the units is better managed by the local power utility companies ^ Though affordable but the locally made E&M equipment do not work well for longer time ^ Increased community contribution both in-kind and cash enhances the sustainability of the units due to increased sense of ownership among community members. ^ For scattered villages the small units can be connected through local mini-grid to enhance the stable supply of power ^ For productive use of energy, complementary activities such as capacity development of farmers and entrepreneurs always help achieve the goal of increased income generating opportunities

Key Feature

Following are key features of AKRSP’s MHPs: ^Community Owned/Managed (participation, ownership, cost sharing – 20-30 % community share). ^Affordable and sustainable source of energy for rural population with great potential for reputability ^Capacity development for productive use of energy for economic and income generating activities ^Practiced based scaling-up (Medium to Large size 500-1000 KW) ^Transformation from informal community management to formal community based Power Utility Companies for operation and maintenance ^ Involvement of community organizations such as Village Organizations (VOs) and Local Support Organizations (LSOs) at all levels of project cycle. This creates a strong sense of ownership among the beneficiary communities. ^ The units are financially sustainable and economically viable. The cost-benefit analysis of the program demonstrates very high economic returns (Average BC Ratio is 8 with average breakeven of 3 years) ^ The community manages and maintains the project through dedicated committees for small projects and local community power companies for comparatively larger units.

Other significant information

^Higher capacity MHUs (more than 500 kW) using imported technology to promote multiple and productive uses of energy particularly targeting the poverty in high altitude villages of northern pakistan ^Formal community based power utility companies to build, operate and sustain MHUs with an effective business model. ^Hybrid financing models, involving commercial loan, donor grants, and community contribution. ^Cluster development approach with focus on developing servicing facilities and enterprises aimed at productive and commercial uses of energy. ^Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) involving financial and technical collaboration between AKRSP and various tiers of government. ^ Positive impact on climate change adaptation initiatives in high altitude and environmentally fragile villages

Main Donor

EU, DFID, SDC, PPAF, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(International agencies)

Implementing Actor

Aga Khan Rural Support Proramme (NGOs)