We began implementing projects in our strategic base for South Asia programmes, Nepal, in 2012. We did this in partnership with iDE. Currently we work with some of Nepal’s most isolated and disadvantaged communities, and aim to catalyse micro-economies through the provision of affordable, community-based renewable energy services.


  • 21,439 people reached to-date
  • 666 renewable energy systems installed across 54 communities in 20 districts
  • 88 kilowatts of renewable energy capacity
  • 696,455 litres of water pumped per day
  • 2,927 people reached through livelihood training
  • 130 institutions, micro-enterprises, and smallholders reached
  • 1,111 tons of CO2 mitigated each year


Ranking 149th in the 2018 Human Development Index (HDI), Nepal is one of the most impoverished countries in South Asia. Today, around 35% of Nepal’s population is understood to be poor in terms of health, education, and living standards. This is referred to as ‘multidimensional poverty’ (deprivation of more than one dimension in health, education and living standards). In a population of nearly 30 million people, 56% of the population live on less than $2 per day, and roughly 30% of households still lack access to electricity. In addition, 70% of households in the country lack access to clean cooking sources. In terms of water and sanitation, it is estimated that 1 in 10 Nepalis lack safe water, and roughly half of the population lacks adequate sanitation facilities.

Nepal’s mountain peaks are world-renowned for their beauty, but they also make for harsh, temperamental, and difficult terrain to live on. This is where our work focuses. Nepal’s hill and mountain communities are no strangers to flash floods, unreliable crop cycles due to extreme climatic fluctuations, and collecting water manually from distant sources. According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, 85% of the Nepali population use solid fuels for cooking (mostly wood). With a lack of alternative sources of energy at affordable prices, rural Nepali communities have to also rely on outdated, inefficient, and pollutive forms of energy to maintain their households. In addition, climate change poses a daily threat to many of these communities as traditional crops suffer under erratic rainfall and intense flooding, which in turn undermines local income and food security.

Our Action

We are currently installing Solar Multi-Use Water Systems (SolarMUS) across Nepal. This is our third ‘phase’ of work using these systems, with many years of learning from past implementations. These systems are particularly useful in mountainous regions, and the 29 systems we have delivered already are currently lifting 436,843 litres of water per day (around 7,000 showers), to 8,475 people. Read more about the impacts of SolarMUS in Nepal – our largest and highest impact programme to-date. 

Solar panels in Magare

We also install locally-made Hydrams. So far we have reached 13 communities across five districts, in Nepal. The technology works by using energy from water naturally flowing downhill to lift a smaller amount to a much greater height, making it highly appropriate for some remote communities. A single Hydram can typically lift 20,000 litres of water a day (the equivalent of filling 250 bath tubs) up to 200m. Our Hydrams now lift 259,612 litres of water a day, benefiting 2,538 people, with communities now able to grow crops on land that was previously barren during the dry season.

Our third programme approach involves the installation of Biogas facilities. Thus far we have installed a total capacity of 4,049m3, providing clean cooking energy and fertiliser for 4,217 people in Nepal. Biogas is a methane-rich combustible gas with a low carbon footprint, produced by anaerobic digestion of organic matter, such as manure and sewage (think of your compost!). Community-owned biogas systems and the training we offer alongside installing the system offer a healthy alternative to cooking indoors with harmful wood, dung cake, or kerosene, which kill 3.8m people globally every year. Overall, we have installed 624 household or community-level biogas systems.

We continue to play a key role in providing renewable energy technical expertise on projects including the DfID-funded BRACED programme, which is helping communities become more resilient to climate extremes.

Lastly, thanks to funding from EKOEnergy, we are now developing our first solar microgrid in Nepal. This is being done as part of the ‘Solar Energy for Community Resilience in Nepal’ (SECuRE) project. SECuRE aims to catalyse community development by powering households, small enterprises, a health centre, and a flood warning system, which will benefit around 2,750 people by 2020. Furthermore, we also plan to deliver innovative Nepalese technology combining wind and solar power as part of our commitment to support local partners in the renewable energy supply chain to deliver community-scale solutions.

Funders and Partnerships

We have chosen our strategic partners carefully to ensure we deliver impact which can be taken to scale.

SAPPROS, ADRA, iDE, Big Lottery Fund, Unica Foundation, EKOEnergy, Acre, AEPC Nepal and Jersey Overseas Aid.

Next Steps

Building on the strong foundations of our past work with solar-powered water pumping (SolarMUS), our next chapter in Nepal will place climate change resilience, environmental protection, and safe water use at the heart of a project to provide direct water access. In the next phase of our SolarMUS programme we will construct six new solar-powered water pumping systems. These systems will benefit at least 700 households in six communities. We expect these systems to enable these communities to increase their food security and generate income, whilst dramatically reducing the daily burden faced by women and girls when fetching water from distant sources. In addition, these new systems will allow us to pilot ‘real-time monitoring’ for the first time. We hope to be able to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of each system at all times.

Lastly, we will continue to seek opportunities to broaden existing programmes. For instance, we will adapt our biogas programmes to include community-driven business models. We also expect our proven water pumping programmes to be deployed in new places such as schools and health centres. Further, in addition to expanding existing programmes, we are also looking forward to introducing new programmes such as clean cooking and renewable energy powered agro-processing plants.

By developing bold partnerships, particularly with companies and financial institutions, we will utilise community contributions through affordable finance and enable enterprises to become equity stakeholders. The result will be less reliance on grants and subsidies, bringing community-centred renewable technology to even more people that truly need it.

Click here to read more about our work in our 10 Year Impact Report: 2008-2018.