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Until recently, villagers, mainly the women in Kattampur village, have utilised traditional diesel mills to grind maize and wheat, which are time-consuming and have a negative environmental impact. All this has changed with the introduction of a pico hydro scheme powering agro-processing facilities.

Kattampur village of Mahabai RM of Kalikot is one of the remote communities of Karnali province. Agriculture and livestock are the main economic activities. It is common for the males from the village to seek work in India and spend a long time away from home. During this time, only women, children, and the elderly remain. Most household management and economic responsibilities fall to the women, including firewood management, livestock feeding, fetching water, and agro-processing, which puts them under immense pressure.

For centuries Nepal's farmers have utilised the country's vast hydropower potential via Traditional Water Mills (TWMs), primarily to grind maize and wheat. However, the agro-processing charge is  =significantly high, and the mill runs from diesel, contributing to the GHG emissions. For the villagers of Kattampur, the journey to the nearest diesel mill takes an hour and a half and the milling itself would be very time-consuming.

The situation has dramatically improved following the installation of an 8 kW Pico hydro scheme established in the village by a programme implemented by SNV Nepal with financial support from Energising Development (EnDev). The Pico-hydro scheme was introduced to provide electricity and existing mechanised agro-processing facilities for remote communities, where neither connection to the national grid nor micro-hydropower was feasible.

The scheme has helped establish the mechanised agro-processing unit within the village. In addition, it provides a lighting facility that increases the security of women during the evening and night while doing various household activities and has extended their work hours. The programme offers enterprise development training to entrepreneurs to help them effectively manage the agro-processing unit's operation. In addition to the training course, the programme provides a small token amount to these entrepreneurs to encourage them to establish enterprises.

The Owner Pampha Devi Shahi in her agro-processing mill.

Operating the new agro-processing mill

The agro-processing mill is managed by a local woman Pampha Devi Shahi and can process around 150 kg of rice paddy in an hour. As this mill's efficiency is better, the charge per kg is almost half of what they were paying in the diesel mill. A portion of this income goes to the maintenance fund of the pico hydro scheme. The UC chairperson said that agro-processing has helped the scheme's operation and believes that the contributions made to the repair and maintenance fund will support the regular operation of the project.

As the women have become experts in this agro-processing unit, once the males return from India, they can support their female counterparts in this work. The new method of processing has changed the traditional gender role and saved the time and money of the village people. It is the first time the villagers have had a facility like this, and they are very excited about it!

 

For more information, contact Subash Dhakal, sdhakal@snv.org - EnDev Programme Lead, SNV.