Micro-hydro power (MHP) is the conversion of energy from flowing water into electricity. Flowing water turns a turbine, which in turn converts this created energy to electricity. While traditional water wheels use the power of running water to work milling equipment, modern hydro-turbines use this power to create electricity. A good micro-hydro scheme can be designed to operate with minimal environmental impact with a degree of automatic control to offer low running costs and high reliability over a long term period, with significant impacts on beneficiaries.
MHP in North Eastern Afghanistan
Takhar and Badakhshan provinces are located in North-East Afghanistan, where the majority of villages and rural areas lack electricity, despite the abundance of water springs and small rivers that can be found in this mountainous region. A successful MHP plant requires a strong and rapid water flow in order to produce sufficient electricity for villagers.
MHP makes a huge difference to the lives of individuals and communities, providing power to light the homes of families and facilitating access to education, information and entertainment for people who have been isolated by three decades of war. Providing power supplies in villages can have multiple impacts, not least of which is the fact that people now have access to up to date information on the political and social situation of their country and the wider world. Access to mediums such as TV and radio also helps capacity building of children in education and provides an additional source of entertainment.
“The MHP is fulfilling our greatest need, it brings light to our home, we watch the world through media and everyone in the community benefits equally from this project,” believes a villager.
The National Solidarity Program (NSP) in Afghanistan aims to create peace, stability, development and national harmony. NSP is the single biggest program run by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) within the Government of Afghanistan. The program works by gathering the villagers in large-scale community meetings and establishing community councils known as CDCs (Community Development Councils). The council members are comprised of villagers who can decide, in consultation with their community, on how to implement MRRD funded block grants. This way, the communities are able to determine and prioritise their own needs. Technical support for design and implementation of activities is then provided by facilitating partners, of which ACTED Afghanistan is one. So far, MHP has been a key component of NSP implemented infrastructure projects.
ACTED’s capacity in MHP
Within the context of NSP, ACTED has designed and implemented numerous MHP projects at various locations across Badakhshan and Takhar provinces. In total, ACTED has so far implemented 73 MHP projects under NSP, directly benefiting approximately 63,000 individuals across the north east of the country.
ACTED plans to take its expertise in this area further and begin to integrate MHP in a variety of community based projects outside of the NSP framework. 240 communities in the north-east region could still potentially benefit from MHP activities. As MHP addresses such a critical need and can be sustainably and cost-effectively implemented, such infrastructure will directly impact the socio-economic condition of rural communities.