Access to clean and affordable modern energy is critical for social and economic development. Worldwide, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks.

In the Himalayan country, Nepal, the towering mountains are a formidable obstacle to the people who need modern energy. Only 20 percent of the mountain villages have access to electricity.

Since 1996, UNDP, its partners and the Government of Nepal have worked together with local communities to provide energy to remote areas through one clean, simple and plentiful means: water. Nearly 400 micro-hydro power plants have been built bringing energy to roughly half a million people.

Local communities themselves dig the channels to divert the water that powers the small plants. They also provide the labor to install the power lines and the light.

“Micro-hydro was introduced in Nepal before, but the difference UNDP made was to put community people at the center of the project so that they are the driver to introduce this technology then also maintain and then have full ownership,” says Shoko Nodo, UNDP Country Director in Nepal.

Through these small hydro plants, big changes are happening. Clinics, schools, radio stations, businesses are all flourishing where once there was darkness and no electricity.

This five-minute movie on the micro-hydro power plants of Nepal is a sneak preview of a longer documentary that aired on Discovery Channel.


About Author

Oliver is a digital media entrepreneur and publisher with 15+ years in the renewable energy and sustainability sector. Beginning in 1998, with just a few hundred dollars and no staff, he grew an idea for a solar e-newsletter into the globally respected, Currently, he is a partner at Abel Twitchell, a marketing agency that provides authentic digital marketing to good people & brands committed to local community, social responsibility and global sustainability. Oliver also serves as Publisher of

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