You are on page 1of 5

Energy for Sustainable Development 45 (2018) 206–210

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Energy for Sustainable Development

Micro-hydropower impact on communities' livelihood analysed with the
capability approach
M. Arnaiz a, T.A. Cochrane a,⁎, R. Hastie b, C. Bellen a
Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
College of Arts, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Isolated developing communities in mountain ranges can generate electricity with the help of micro-hydropower
Received 14 August 2017 schemes. The arrival of electricity to communities can bring numerous socio-economic benefits as well as im-
Revised 2 July 2018 proved livelihood, but there is a lack of international studies on livelihood improvements brought by the imple-
Accepted 9 July 2018
mentation of micro-hydropower schemes. This study aims to identify the most significant livelihood
Available online xxxx
improvements associated with the implementation of micro-hydropower schemes and highlighted the capacities
communities have to make an effective use of such improvements. The analysis is based on the evaluation of 17
Micro-hydropower communities from Bolivia and the Philippines. Visits to communities, engagement with local developers and com-
Livelihood munity interviews were used to evaluate 22 livelihood indicators from five broad categories: health, education,
Capability approach safety, community engagement and economy. The capability approach was used as a framework to identify the
Community most common livelihood improvements. Results show significant improvements in all aspects, especially in
Developing countries education, community engagement and economy. Improved lighting is identified as the most influential factor
across the five aspects, but developing organizations implementation techniques and electricity usage differ be-
tween countries. Women appear to benefit more from drudgery reduction and men from community engagement
opportunities. In conclusion, livelihood improvements were clearly observed and these might have a positive im-
pact in the future sustainability of schemes.
© 2018 International Energy Initiative. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Introduction than community and household economic development (Murni,
Whale, Urmee, Davis, & Harries, 2013). Measuring livelihood improve-
Access to electricity is one of the cornerstones of human develop- ments, however, presents multiple challenges, particularly for remote
ment (UNDP, 2001). The lack of access to electricity in remote areas in communities of developing countries where material assets may be
developing countries has been identified as a key factor that jeopardizes less important than cultural or social dynamics.
progress towards better livelihoods (Gurung, Bryceson, & Oh, 2010). Two developing countries where remote communities can benefit
The electrification of households can produce improvements in health, from MHP are Bolivia and the Philippines. Both countries have good hy-
safety and education. It can also promote the creation of small enter- drologic resources and steep mountain ranges and this has allowed for
prises or boost the production and efficiency of existing ones, reduce the construction of over a hundred MHP schemes in each country
drudgery, lower the cost of lighting and other energy services and pro- since the mid 1990's. The socio-economic characteristics of remote
vide higher levels of comfort to its beneficiaries (Bastakoti, 2006). Elec- communities in these countries, where basic food and education
tricity is, thus, a means towards achieving economic growth, social needs are generally covered, have made the arrival of electricity a nec-
progress and increased human well-being. essary step towards development.
Micro-hydropower (MHP) schemes can produce electricity for iso- The objective of this study is to outline the most common livelihood
lated communities which are not connected to national electricity net- improvements afforded by MHP schemes in Bolivia and the Philippines.
works. The implementation of a MHP project is a cost-effective solution The capability approach (Sen, 1993) is used in this study to quantify the
that has less environmental impact than traditional fossil fuel generators livelihood improvements that schemes bring to communities.
(Huang, Chang, Hwang, & Ma, 2014; Mainali & Silveira, 2013). MHP
brings improvements in livelihoods which are often more significant

⁎ Corresponding author. To evaluate the social impact of MHP schemes on communities, 17
E-mail address: (T.A. Cochrane). remote communities from Bolivia and the Philippines were studied
0973-0826/© 2018 International Energy Initiative. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

7(nf) 11 180 Llanos 40 adults. they'd like to learn more. Bol.6(nf) 6 120 Sub-Andean 38 were carried out during the site visits (Table 2). reported having an im- iii. and 93% said ation and maintenance of the scheme or the creation of the MHP com- that they enjoyed such meetings. or. healthy. 2005). and 85% said meetings are unique to MHP schemes. and preparing them for the construction MHP significantly more convenient that solar generation. schemes are directly related to the utilization of electricity. safety.4(nf) 14 30 Sub-Andean 16 their main activity and all communities visited appeared to be around Bol. a fact person's state of being. . 2005). education. as a When questioned on ‘overall well-being contribution’.6(nf) 5 30 Negros Island 5 Interviews on community livelihood. other energy sources could provide similar benefits. Data was collected throughout a study of 35 Table 1 schemes between Nepal. the community is asked to participate with the acquisition of materials and construction of Health & diet the civil works. functionings and achieved function. offers an opportunity to work together. cess to. Only 30% responded that electricity helped towards doing their pects of life that people value” (Alkire. proved health post facility as a direct consequence of the MHP scheme. Phi. and fosters tance’ in this study). Cambodia and the Philippines Synopsis of the micro-hydro schemes studied in Bolivia and the Philippines. Interviews were held casually and individually Bol. duct regular maintenance and community members are asked to which allowed refrigerated medicines and a place for outside doctors to contribute to major repairs. when Results and discussion and how this energy is generated has different impacts on the community. Subsistence agriculture was Bol. barriers. with 90% enjoying the process. empowerment. During the preliminary workshops. / Energy for Sustainable Development 45 (2018) 206–210 207 during 2015 and 2016. other livelihood improvements such as the creation of jobs for the oper- 90% of the people said they had an active participation. Only three communities. disease treatment the repairs of the scheme during the life of the scheme. The measure of what a person is capa. Participants had to be Bol. nursing. Interviewees were further asked to rate five basic aspects of their life: health and diet. residents of the community.4 16 52 Cordillera 7 tion was recorded on the social effects. Developers initiate community-scheme engagement by giving a se. all in Bolivia (27%). 68% of inter- method to measure well-being by evaluating the well-ness of the viewees responded that electricity contributed to general comfort. Phi. Individual semi-structured interviews on interview done in Bolivia and the Philippines for the 22 indicators of 22 livelihood indicators (i.2 2 14 Andean 8 Schemes varied in years of operation. However.5(nf) 12 40 Sub-Andean 8 the poverty threshold (WorldBank. and post implementation of the scheme.9 7 313 Sub-Andean 100 (avoiding social desirability biasing). 2018). of electricity early in the morning and late at night. households serviced by MHP.e. Phi. operators are chosen to con. & Mahabharat. study. The only two other common sources of energy that communities formation on engagement with MHP: have access to are solar photovoltaic (with no large battery systems due to high cost) and diesel generators. and thus. When the construction process starts. this study used the capability approach (Robeyns. (Arnaiz. ments that helped understand the rationale behind the answers. Bol. with only a few reporting that cooking and an individual are the functionings that the individual has actual ac. and users of the electricity gener. 89% answered positively. Years Household Power Scheme Region resented a range of active and non-functioning schemes implemented Operating number (kW) by local developers in each country. community engagement and The arrival of a MHP schemes generates in the community a sense of leisure. Measuring well-being is a complex task.1 7 58 Cordillera 15 Scheme implementation interviews were carried out in the nine Phi.7 8 200 Negros Island 32 nation of the individual well-being of the members of the commu. house cleaning duties could be done easier.8 1 60 Sub-Andean 35 ated by the scheme. The percentage of positive responses to semi-structured household uals choose make use of. Interviews on scheme implementation and community livelihood Bol. mittee and the opportunities for socialization through the community ing about the technology. The interviews allowed for additional qualitative com. educated) or doing (work. After the construction of the scheme. ii. improvements are exclusive to the use of energy at night time. 63% affirmed having participated with come and do workshops on health practices. Arnaiz et al. Individual interviews provided qualitative in- Phi.. (nf) – MHP scheme not functioning. 1). familiarizing the community with the physical princi. re. communal problem solving and decision making. as interviewees reported ble of being (happy. when men and chil- ries of workshops to the community.3(nf) 8 80 Sub-Andean 100 gions. Calizaya. Cochrane. during. and maintenance of the scheme. making ples of MHP generation. Informa. When asked if they enjoyed learn. The ‘Scheme implementation’ interviews in Bolivia revealed key in. the ‘Community livelihood’ were varied (Fig. how much a person is succeeding in mainly explained by the improved lighting. M. TV.3 14 43 Cordillera 6 formation on the community's response and engagement during the phases prior.1 7 25 Andean 6 to obtain key information on scheme and community characteristics. and vaccinations. Bol. defined here as the combi. ings) revealed which things the community could do or be as a direct Some of the benefits brought by the implementation of MHP result of MHP. thus. Achieved functionings are those functionings that individ. 1993).8 8 150 Negros Island 32 nity. and economy (named ‘livelihood sub-set perceived impor. electricity was ‘doing’ or being’ (Sen.2 9 14 Cordillera 5 communities in Bolivia. explaining the benefits of the dren wake up and come back from work or school. and power generation (Table 1). These schemes rep. were carried out in all 17 communities in Bolivia and the Philippines. Phi. However. The capability set of chores more effortlessly. working longer hours at night and spending too much time watching learn) are called ‘functionings’ and they “represents the diverse as. Phi. seldom reported to extend free time (32%). 78% of the interviewed people in Bolivia participated in building the scheme. Local developers were contacted Bol. Communities make most use i. Multiple livelihood technology. 2017). Bolivia.5(nf) 6 100 Negros Island 32 the implementation process of schemes. Additionally. issues and limitations of Phi.

Four Bolivian communities (44%). however. Interviewees also reported a reduction in home accidents (67%) sion and the use of refrigerators. Traditional methods of generating light (i..e. resulting in a less stressful women in these communities. and not darkness (Mueller & Philippines. candles and kerosene lamps) produce fumes that generate head. especially convenient for two countries where sulted in fewer people spending time outside at night (44%) com- fruit consumption is high.e. However. Pakistan. The cold climate of some of the communities in Bolivia re- the use of blenders. 2012). Electricity. their diet seemed more vegetable based (lesser need for refrigerating On average. communities showed less need for refrigerators (41%). An ‘F’ or ‘AF’ next to the question number indicates a functioning (F) or an achieved functioning (AF) type question. as opposed to conventional and dangerous flame sources of and diabetes. / Energy for Sustainable Development 45 (2018) 206–210 Table 2 Study interviews description. where women explained that prevailing restrictions in so- Most communities in Bolivia run refrigerators (84%). and the nearest health post. Engagement Q15-AF Do you spend time on such areas at night? * & Leisure Q16-F Can you give your opinion in MHP communal meetings? + Q17-AF Do you give your opinion? + Q18-F Do you have more leisure time now? *+ Q19-AF Do you have internet or a cell phone? Economy Q20-AF Has your home income increased thanks to the MHP? Q21-AF Do you save money on lighting? Q22-AF Do you save money on other energy needs? * + difference in genders higher than 15% * difference in countries higher than 15% Fig. the most common source of injury re. mending of wounds. in the ciety are the source of insecurity.208 M. also. . Communities from both used (0%). light. This resulted in improved diet variety and pared to communities in the Philippines (66%) where the climate is quality for both countries (74%) (Q5). saw the arrival of a phone or radio emergency service as a di- fire accidents. eyesight loss and higher probability of (7%).. 45 M The most significant reported impact was the reduction of health re. 1. respiratory problems. young people regularly consumed (Q9). a fact also reported in a study in life. Better lighting allows for better cleaning and preparation rect consequence of the MHP scheme (32%) (Q6). Safety lated issues (75%) (Q2). resulting in apparent higher rates of overweight ing. elders in Bolivian com. as Schwarz. Remote communi- of food and extends meal time and makes it more pleasant (i. Interview Countries Number of interviewees Gender Scheme implementation Bolivia 64 33 F. a fact often explained by the safety brought by electric light- sugary fizzy drinks. more time outside (51%) (Q8) simply due to the comfort brought tity due to less spoilage. Bolivian communities (44%). allows for ice making and for by light. better ties usually do not have a resident doctor and in case of emergencies visualization of food). countries also reported that with extended hours of light. interviewees in both countries expressed spending meat or fish). resulting in higher food consumption. Arnaiz et al.) 48 F. Lighting a doctor has to be called in or the patient needs to be transported to also allows for faster cleaning of houses. 29 Phil. Emergency services were regularly used in makes stumbling less likely. while in the Philippines was never ported. chores could Lack of light during night-time was not a security issue for be distributed more easily during the day. Percentage of positive responses for the semi-structured interview for 22 Community livelihood’ indicators. warmer. Q1-F Do you have access to better health facilities? * Health & Diet Q2-AF Do you have less health related issues? Q3-F Do you have access to refrigerated food? * Q4-AF Do you eat refrigerated food? * Q5-F Is the quality of your diet better? Q6-F Do you have access to emergency services? * Safety Q7-AF Have you ever used the emergency services? * Q8-AF Do you spend more time outside at night? * Q9-AF Have you had less home accidents? Q10-F Has your children’s education improved? Education Q11-F Do you have more time to study at night? Q12-AF Do you study more hours at night? Q13-AF Have you participated in any new educational activity? Q14-F Do you have access to communal lit areas at night? * Com. and one Philippine community aches. Refrigerated food allows for better food quality and quan. munities pointed out that due to the cultural changes brought by televi. 31 M Community livelihood Bolivia and Philippines 93 (64 Bol. something recurrent for the elderly.

thus. Overall averages do not show significant differences between gen- dent enough to express their ideas (64%). the five sub-sets) by level of importance (being 1 low importance. a difference explained by the lack of access in the by men. such as diesel. opening hours of retail shops were complex. perhaps due to so. However. (0.e.. across countries and genders. exists in the overall capability set in the Philippines (54%) and in served in this study. A difference. The impact on the community adult's education. than to men (60%). especially for those with relatives living outside of the wider community engagement and leisure due to broader use of com- community. night time (68%) (Q14). Such difference represents the ders on functionings or achieved functionings. of projectors. books. This was of special importance to the Philippines (79%). and children required and Diet and Community Engagement and Leisure sub-sets between less attention.e. several jobs were created for the opera- most of their time. could continue production was no longer possible for them. sawmills. who spend more time at home with children. Percentage of positive answers grouped by sub-sets for Bolivia and the Philippines. differences exist in the Health duties could be planned better through the day. multiple in. schools organize adult activities and workshops making use key revenue for the sustainability of the scheme. Interviewees from both countries saw a significant increase in their MHP schemes generate new sources of community interaction such capability set (i. and that farming duties occupied during night-time. facilities. Men actively gave their opinion (94%). etc. wood. munal lit areas. can create casionally. Both countries reflected that women gained higher benefit from the Interviewees were asked to rate the five basic aspects of their life reduction of drudgery resulting in higher leisure time. grain mills). However. New businesses reliant on the en- ity helped people read magazines. Households highly benefited from the reduction of lighting cost (85%) (Q21). the former often claimed having no interest in the functioning of the scheme. 1) for the achieved participate (89%) (Q16). Leisure time was increased significantly in both countries (69%) The grouping of all indicators into the 5 sub-sets reveals similarities (Q18). while women are the primary users of the elec. however.Eng. but did not ben. the two countries (Fig. however. which varied from a half to a fifth of the original cost with- out MHP. In Bolivia. compared to Bolivia (48%). Economy & Diet & Leisure & Diet & Leisure Women Men Women Men Fig. 2. These factors were more important to women (78%). ergy generated. (Q10). and home terviewees affirmed they'd rather watch television. such as knitting. The majority of the committees were solely formed Bolivia (71%). most significant utilization function difference between genders ob. and no woman was found in charge of the operation of the Philippines to communal lit areas. claiming education manufacturing businesses. that they did not have enough knowledge on the scheme nor felt confi. tricity and men the main decision-makers. and achieved func- as monthly open meetings around the operation and maintenance of tionings. Arnaiz et al. People claimed chores could be done faster with better visibility. extended light hours and better light qual. Economy Health Safety Education Com. a 63% of the interviewees reported using the communal lit areas to socialize during night time. often extend until midnight thanks to improved lighting. which suggests that the new possibilities are positively women often argued their husbands were in charge of such matter.87)). and was the second sub- meetings. Moreover. . functionings that can be chosen). (i. The overall average positive responses was 66% (“F” in Fig. Households reported an increase in home income (59%) (Q20) be- holds had a significant positive impact on children's education (94%) cause businesses could be enhanced with new machinery (fridges. or valued by people and are utilized. and 3 high importance) (Table 3). speakers. and the bible (67%) (Q12). M. set that received most benefits. Communities also expressed savings on other energy needs Community engagement and leisure (58%) (Q22). or batteries. Despite extended night study time (76%) (Q11). emergency services and health schemes. gas. while only Capability sets and achieved functionings a 21% of the interviewees in the Philippines reported spending time in such areas. 1) the scheme where the majority of the members of the community can for the examined functionings and 59% (“AF” in Fig. while functionings. the operation and maintenance of the MHP scheme or the communal Education was rated first (Table 3. efit as much from the opportunities brought by the organization behind 2 moderate importance. it is reasonable to conclude that Bolivia Philippines 80% 80% 70% 70% 60% 60% 50% 50% 40% 40% 30% 30% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% 0% Health Safety Education Com. 2). such as enhanced agricultural production. Cell Bolivian communities had better health and diet due to increased ac- phones were now used by some members of the community (54%) cess to health facilities and better access to refrigerated food as well as (Q19). Interestingly. is welders. (34%) (Q13). / Energy for Sustainable Development 45 (2018) 206–210 209 Education Economy Communities' reported that improved lighting at schools and house. computers. tion and maintenance of the scheme. Livelihood sub-sets cial conditioning. Oc.Eng. reporting greater savings due to Interviewees reported increased access to communal lit areas during less usage of batteries for torchlights.

. S. 1240–1248.73 0.. S.45 (0. ing and extended light hours. Cochrane. WORLDBANK (2017). A. It is possible to as- however. M. sume that if livelihood improvements are brought by the installation efits (0. the arrival of MHP schemes often represented an abrupt Conclusions change for communities. High energy loads at dawn and dusk showed that MHP is a com.46 0. (2010). Energy for Sustainable Development. Renewable Energy.68 (0. The electricity-livelihood nexus: some highlights from the petitive energy source compared to small solar systems with no battery Andhikhola Hydroelectric and Rural Electrification Centre (AHREC). survey of existing micro-hydropower projects in Ba'Kelalan. 6. duced.Safety 0.Com. 55–63.. (2006). 66. A. Journal of Human cooking methods. A. & Ma. B.64) communities highly value the contribution towards education. B.. Whale.50) 3rd. Learning from experience: A • Health problems produced by traditional light sources were highly re. The results of this study have shown that the electrification of com- munities through MHP produces improvements in a wide range of live.Safety 2. • Safety was increased by the reduction of accidents due to the lack of Sen. Malaysia. Urmee.undp. Men benefited more from the community Essays. World development indicators [online]. creased for adults. D. S.210 M.69) 5th. using operation simulations.Economy 0. Better lighting. 57. (2012). this can benefit positively the operation and mainte- nificant differences were found. tion of drudgery brought by the electrification of households. The health sub-set was perceived as highly important (0. daily duties easier and allowed communities to stay active after dusk. Making new technologies work for human visibility and use of flame light sources.86). Renewable Energy. and women experienced a higher reduc.Economy 2. 39(3). -R.73) and was the sub-set that re.. & Mahabharat.. Diet was enhanced by the use of refrigerators and better Robeyns. World Bank Available: http://data. 26–35. & Leisure 0. T. development. 44. of a MHP scheme.pdf.59 (0. Arnaiz et al. 6. J.DDAY (Accessed 04-25 2017). & Oh..68 (0. Y. 60. Development. 10. TV mis- use. the least basic sub-set. P. Micro-hydropower: A promising decentralized Bolivia and the Philippines showed similar results for most of the 22 renewable technology and its impact on rural livelihoods. The most important livelihood impacts produced by the arrival of a Mueller. Bastakoti. (2013).49) 2nd.) Scale [0–1] (total average of Fig. operation and maintenance of schemes increased on the other hand. The capability approach: A theoretical survey.66) 4th. no sig.. . resulting in negative diet alterations. M. When analysing these results by gender and country. Renewable Energy. & Leisure 2.73 3rd. A framework for evalu- ating the current level of success of micro-hydropower schemes in remote communi- which resulted in a better distribution of chores and extended leisure ties of developing countries. The Quality of Life. UNDP (2001). J. Mainali. (2018). results reflect that community engage- ment and leisure received the most benefits. (2005). Murni. Education was identified as the livelihood improvement that com- munities. both countries perceived community • The local generation of electricity cut energy costs and allowed for the engagement and leisure as the least important sub-set (0. Scientific Research and livelihood indicators studied..Health 2. Hwang. & Schwarz.58 5th.67 (0. -L. Gurung. • The management.Education 2. -H.59).. & Silveira. cultural changes and community identity loss. Davis.16 0.. P.Com. Bryceson. storage capabilities. dev. was rated 4th (0.73 4th. Chang. 241–250. Alkire. Evaluating the productivity engagement opportunities brought by the organization. A. http://hdr. Score Score Livelihood sub-set total average Score Livelihood sub-set perceived importance Scale [1–3] (St. nance of the scheme.. Eng. References lihood indicators. Y. (2013). S. ceived least / Energy for Sustainable Development 45 (2018) 206–210 Table 3 Overall results for the ‘Livelihood sub-set perceived importance’ and ‘Livelihood sub-set total average’. munities benefited most from.58). (1993). Appropriate Technology. I. -E. 2) Scale [0–1] 1st . However. 30.47 0. which suggests that some of the benefits brought by the MHP might not be as important for com. (2014). 50–52. Why the capability approach? Journal of Human Development.86 2nd.87 1st. Human development report 2001. 6. A. Night time reading hours were also in. D. Making micro hydropower projects contribute to MHP were: gender equality. S. arguably the most significant contribution. 88–97. operation and and financial feasibility of a vertical-axis micro-hydro energy generation project maintenance of the scheme. 299–310. Alternative pathways for providing access to electricity in developing countries. Arnaiz. I. Capability and well-Being73. community engagement and generated a sense of empowerment.Health 0. (2005). S. & Harries.POV.. times. arguably improvement of existing businesses and the creation of new ones. and safety the least. -W. results reflect that schemes do not always provide health ben. made 115–135. Energy for Sustainable Development. Calizaya.75 0.. Safety.worldbank. However. T. New York: United Nations Development Program Retrieved from • Children's education was highly improved thanks to enhanced school.Education 0. Interestingly. Huang. 93–117. thus increasing its sustainability.