"The Millennium Development Goals omit any specific reference to the role of energy in the reduction of poverty. Access to energy services is, however, a crucial element in achieving the goals. It is not possible to halve poverty by 2015 without energy to increase production, income and education, creation of jobs and reduction of the daily grind involved in having to just survive. It is also not possible to halve hunger without energy for more productive growing, harvesting, processing and marketing of food. Improvement in health and reduction in death rates is not possible without energy for the refrigeration needed for clinics, hospitals and vaccination campaigns. The world’s greatest child killer, acute respiratory infection, can be tackled by replacing cooking fires with its attendant smoke with clean energy technologies in the home. Children will not study at night without light in their homes and clean water will not be pumped or treated without energy."

"This paper advocates the use of existing dams in Zambia by using siphon intakes for pico/micro hydropower generation. Since hydropower generation is non-consumptive the water can be reused for irrigation and other purposes."

"Pico and micro hydro power systems are cheaper and simpler because of different approaches in the design, planning and installation than those, which are applied to larger hydro power systems. Recent innovations in pico/micro hydro technology have made it an economic source of power even in some of the world’s poorest and most inaccessible places. It is also a versatile power source. AC electricity is produced enabling standard electrical appliances to be used and the electricity can be distributed to a whole village."

"By using siphon intakes the cost of the civil works would be drastically reduced. In order to appreciate the cost of the civil works the dams constructed by RIF were of the order of US $ 40,000 per dam."

"Besides providing power for domestic lighting and cooking needs, village hydro schemes can also be used for charging batteries or for income generating activities like grain milling. On a global scale, a very substantial market exists in developing countries including Zambia for pico hydro systems (up to 5 kW). There are several reasons for the existence of this market."

"It is, therefore, time to look for other options for rural electrification. According to the author the least cost option is pico/micro hydropower technology. Advantage can be taken of the numerous dams that exist in Zambia. If it is not possible to use siphon turbines at these dams because of technical constraints the pico hydropower turbines as manufactured by Powerpal is a proven technology and can be used. Because of the perceived government inertia an NGO might be the right candidate to spearhead this development which would bring electricity to the rural folk."

Read the article in full Poverty Alleviation through Pico Hydro Power here

Contact details

Ronald Lwamba
ronlwamba at yahoo.co.uk