Women-Centric Mini-Grid Enterprises in South Asia: Micro Hydropower in Nepal and Pakistan
Renewable energy mini-grids are becoming a widely accepted solution for cost-effective and reliable energy access. Hydro mini-grids in Nepal and Pakistan reveal that the long-term sustainability of projects is dependent on whether they are run as enterprises that generate revenue which is re-invested into the project. Our experiences show that women-centric approaches to mini-grid ownership, management, and productive end-use result in longer-lived micro-hydropower systems. In Pakistan, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme has facilitated women to become shareholders of enterprise-based mini-grids. This has resulted in women being at the center of decision-making and having the right to receive profits-shares from the sale of electricity. In Nepal, the UNDP Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihoods Program has developed women-owned productive end-use, while facilitating grant-dependent projects to become self-sustaining, enterprise-based mini-grids. Our efforts show that SDG 7- Access to Energy and SDG 5-Gender Equality have opportunity to be addressed hand-in-hand.