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ICIMOD’s Energy Work in the Past

In the 1990s, ICIMOD undertook a state-of-the-art review of rural energy use in mountain areas of HKH countries. This document provided the basis for ICIMOD’s work to focus on the promotion of decentralized, renewable community-based energy options. [See Link A below]

ICIMOD was instrumental in the promotion of decentralized renewable energy technologies through capacity building for mini- and micro-hydropower programmes and traditional water mills. Manuals produced on the subject continue to be used in the region as a means to reduce poverty. [See Link B below]

Over the years, ICIMOD’s programme on energy has implemented initiatives that focus on renewable energy technologies. Two major projects were implemented till 2008. Yet, despite huge potential, the promotion and accelerated adoption of decentralized sustainable energy are still in the initial stages and have not transformed into economies of scale due to a broad range of policy, regulatory, financial, technical, knowledge, awareness, cultural, and capacity barriers to their penetration in rural mountain areas of the HKH region.

Women, Energy and Water in the Himalaya

The lives of women all over the world are intimately connected to energy and water. Yet women in the Himalayan region continue to face hardships related to the endless cycle of fetching firewood and water, and cooking in smoky environs, causing enormous damage to the environment, triggering widespread harm to human health, and resulting in serious social deprivation. It is almost impossible to involve women in new livelihood opportunities without reducing the time they spend in collecting and managing the water and energy needs of their households.

To tackle this issue, ICIMOD and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) executed a two-year project with financial support from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA). The project focused on enabling women to participate fully and effectively in the planning and implementation of household water and energy initiatives by building their capability to organize themselves and to identify and prioritize their own needs.

What was striking was that a few simple technologies in the water and energy sectors made a marked difference in the lives of the women, their families, and their communities, even within the short time frame of the project by meeting their practical needs (immediate survival activities to escape from drudgery and poverty), as well as in addressing their productive (income generation) and strategic (empowerment) needs. Women developed their own solutions to their water and energy needs, and many were able to use the time saved to generate income. Women have operated a technology demonstration centre from the technologies they adopted for the benefit of other women. Some have emerged as energy entrepreneurs, for example, as liquid petroleum gas depot managers, and producers and sellers of solar dryers and improved cooking stoves. The publications will be useful to policy makers, planners, and development specialists in national institutions, NGOs, and donor agencies engaged in engendering development and empowering women, especially in mountain areas.

The experiences and lessons learned from this project have been encapsulated in three publications, including policy guidelines, a training manual, project learning, and in a documentary film which hopes to help policy makers and rural development practitioners replicate and upscale similar projects in their own regions.

Overall objective of this project was to promote the integration of women in decision making, and in the implementation and management of household energy and water initiatives that better reflect their roles and needs, and are environmentally sound.

The project was carried out with Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Bhutan The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India and the Centre for Rural Technology (CRT/N), Nepal.

For more information, contact
Bikash Sharma
Senior Environmental Economist

Development of Sustainable Energy for Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

No other region in Asia will perhaps suffer as much from a changing climate and looming energy crisis as the cold high altitude mountain areas of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, where living conditions are harsh and many people vulnerable and marginalized. Within the mountains, the rangelands occupying over two-thirds of the HKH pose a particular problem, as they are located above the timberline where conventional sustainable energy solutions are ineffective. Energy is crucial in rangeland areas: herders cannot survive the winter without fuel. Traditionally, twigs from scrub and bushes and animal dung have been the main sources of energy, but these biomass resources are shrinking, and collecting fuel now takes herders, especially women, enormous time and effort.

This project sought to develop a knowledge base on the household livelihood and energy situation, and carry out on-site testing of some feasible energy technologies using the lessons learnt by employing a participatory action research approach. The renewable energy technologies identified as suitable and thus piloted were modified versions of three types of metallic improved cook stoves, parabolic and wooden box type solar cookers, portable and fixed type solar lamps, bio-briquettes, milk churners, and meteorological data recording equipment.

Within a short span, the project results showed vast potential for saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution, and freeing up time spent in collecting fuel, especially by women, for productive activities. The results provide a detailed account of pilot project learnings dealing mainly with major highlights of baseline conditions, the performance assessment of piloted technologies, and major experiences and lessons learned. It offers priority issues and recommended options for future action on sustainable energy service provision for the rangeland.

Building on these positive pilot experiences, ICIMOD embarked on the second phase of the project (DESER II) from 2010 to 2011 to disseminate the tested technologies at sites in five countries in preparation for rolling out the programme in remaining areas of the HKH through multi-stakeholder partnerships, market development, commercialization, and policy, institutional and technological innovations. More recently, the project underwent an ex-post impact evaluation which is being processed/synthesized for dissemination.

With overall objective to enhance the livelihoods of people and their environment by designing and supporting the development of environmentally friendly, socially equitable (gender sensitive), and economically sustainable energy resources and technologies, the project was carried out with Department of Livestock, Bhutan; Sichuan Grassland Science Academy, People’s Republic of China; National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal; and Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Pakistan.

For more information, contact
Bikash Sharma
Senior Environmental Economist

Capacity Building on Bio Briquette Technology

ICIMOD and the Institute of Technical and Skill Development (ITSD) arranged a two-day Training of Trainers on Bio Briquetting at two locations in Pakistan for 70 candidates (both male and female) from 23 May to 26 May 2016. The training was funded and technically assisted by ICIMOD. The purpose of the training was to enhance the skills and capacities of youth in Karim Abad and Soost in relation to bio briquetting technology.

The Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) and Kunjerav Villagers Organization (KVO) selected the 70 candidates from the Karim Abad and Soost valleys. Master trainers from ITSD, Danin, Chitral, provided the training, which included both theoretical demonstration and practical work. The starting session was chaired by Secretary of Forest, Wildlife, and Environment, Sajjad Haider.

At the end of the training, the participants were awarded training completion certificates as well as tool kits so that they might practice the technologies they learnt about in their respective villages/areas and further train people on this beneficial technology. Through this training activity, bio briquetting technology has been disseminated at the grass-roots level in the valleys of Hunza and Soost, providing a feasible alternative to fuelwood, which is costly and poses a threat to the environment. Projects implemented on the ground.