Annual Report 2015: Knowledge generation and use

Benefit Sharing Leads to Success in Hydropower Projects 

Mountains offer ideal conditions for hydropower, but uneven distribution of benefits can lead to friction between communities and project developers. ICIMOD set out to learn what works and doesn’t work by undertaking the first comprehensive research of hydropower benefit sharing in Nepal, analysing over 30 years’ worth of projects, including 70 per cent of Nepal’s total installed power.

Examining 18 projects ranging from as small as four megawatts to as large as several hundred megawatts, researchers found a variety of missed opportunities, but also identified creative ways to spread the water wealth. In one case, for instance, a hydropower project was linked to an innovative land purchase scheme, which helped to enable farmers, even those who were previously landless, to benefit from increased irrigation by harvesting up to three crops a year. 

By analysing the effectiveness of the available benefit sharing mechanisms, researchers are developing a better understanding of how benefits can reach communities. The next step: Engage in discussions with independent power producers, the Government of Nepal, and other stakeholders so that knowledge will inform policy making and equitable benefit sharing mechanisms will underpin future hydropower projects.