Our South Asia base

We began implementing projects in our strategic base for South Asia programmes, Nepal, in 2012. 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.

Meet Pabitra

Pabitra used to carry water up a steep and dangerous hill multiple times each day. Recently, new pipes and storage tanks were installed. They serve as constant reminders of the future to come. They are pipelines of promise, offering hope for a future where water no longer prevents young girls like Pabitra, or her 10-month-old daughter, from realising their full potential.

Our Impact

44,888 people reached to-date

73 community-owned and 846 household level renewable energy systems installed across eight different technologies

Energy systems installed with the annual capacity to generate 1,187,858 kWh of energy

Water pumping systems installed with the annual capacity to pump 238,479,028 litres of water

48 clinics, schools, and other community institutions connected to energy or water

993 farmers and smallholders reached through training and water access

1,954 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 (‘multidimensional poverty’). 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, 75% of Nepal’s population (4 million out of 5.43 million households) still use solid biomass as their primary fuel with traditional cookstoves. 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.

Our Action

Our programme in Nepal is focused on bringing renewable energy solutions to bring basic services to remote, hard to reach communities, while also combating energy poverty. We deliver four main technologically based programmes: 1) Solar water pumping; 2) Hydram water pumping; 3) Large scale biogas and most recently, 4) Solar Microgrids.

We deliver our projects with national and local partners who bring expertise and local knowledge that increases our impact. We also aim to deliver innovative Nepalese technology through local partners in the renewable energy supply chain. Our programme is primarily located within the West, Mid-West, and Far-West development region. A full project list can be found on the interactive map here.

a woman in Nepal with water sourced with a solar multi-use system

Our largest programme to date is the Solar Powered Water Pumping programme, which uses Solar Multi-Use Systems (SolarMUS) to lift water to communities sitting above a water source. Access to a reliable and year-long water is a major issue for thousands of communities in the mountainous regions of Nepal. Through this programme, now in its third phase, we expect to install 35 SolarMUS systems bringing sustainable water source to over 12,000 people. 

We are at the forefront of piloting and testing new renewable energy technology for their appropriateness in poor, remote communities. Working with in-country partners we introduced the innovative Hydralic Ram Pump (Hydram) water pumping technology and have supported the manufacture of the system locally in Nepal.  So far, our Hydram programme has reached 13 communities across five districts, in Nepal, lifting water for 2,538 people, with communities now able to grow crops on land that was previously barren during the dry season. Similarly, drawing on learning from our work in our Kenya programme, we are testing the suitability of solar microgrids to meet energy needs for off-grid communities and local institutions such as clinics.  

a woman in Nepal with a hydram

A critical component of energy poverty that can often be overlooked is access to clean cooking facilities. Firewood and cattle dung remain the main source of cooking fuel for over 4 million households in Nepal. Our clean cooking programme tackles this through biogas technology.  Biogas systems offer a healthy and more environmentally friendly cooking alternative, and have the added benefit of producing nutrient rich slurry as a biproduct. Our projects support communities to use this slurry for agricultural production, and even for commercial use.

Fun Fact: A single Hydram can typically pump 20,000 litres of water a day – the equivalent of filling 250 bathtubs.

Our Nepal Programme

Using clean energy as the catalyst each project planned in our Nepal programme aims to deliver at least one of the following four main themes. Improving health and resilience; improving livelihoods and income generation; improving access to education; and improving water, sanitation and hygiene practices (WASH).

Solar Water Pumping for Improved Livelihoods (SolarMUS 3): Empowering 10 rural communities in Nepal to lift themselves out of poverty through increasing access to reliable, sustainable water source, increased agricultural productivity, and improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) practices.

Solar Energy for Community Resilience in Nepal (SECuRe Nepal): Increasing the resilience of an off-grid community in Surkhet district to economic and climatic shocks and stresses through the provision of an innovative, multi-functional solar-powered electrification system.

Clean Energy for Improved Health (E4H): Improving the health status of 2,400 households in 10 poor, off-grid communities in Surkhet District, Nepal through access to clean energy solutions.

Enriching Agriculture in Nepal through Bag Digesters (ENRICH Nepal): Increasing nutritional intake and generating increased income through the development of a new, self-sustaining market in Bag Digesters, biogas and organic fertilizer in Surkhet and Banke.

Renewable Energy Access for Livelihoods in Fragile Buffer Zones (REALiZe Nepal): Enabling 8,378 poor people living in northern Bardia and Banke National Park buffer zones to generate a sustainable, renewable-energy enhanced income, conserve the fragile forest landscape in which they live, and gain a louder voice in buffer zone decision-making.

Using Renewable Energy to Kickstart Agriculture in Achham (UREKA): Improving food security and income generation in Achham District through access to solar water pumping technology across five communities. Providing agricultural training and enhancing value chains by introducing solar powered agro-processing units and supporting local cooperatives.

Transforming Education through Energy Access and Simple, Sustainable Solutions (TREATS Nepal): Improving access to secondary level education for 3,000 students in Gulmi, with a focus on girls and children with disabilities, using solar powered water provision, combined with sanitation and hygiene facilities, resources and knowledge.

Next Steps

Building on the strong foundations of our past work with solar-powered water pumping (SolarMUS), community owned biogas (COBLE) and solar microgrid systems, our next chapter in Nepal will place climate change resilience, environmental protection and conservation, community health, and improved livelihoods at the centre of our programme.

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

By developing bold partnerships, particularly with companies and financial institutions, we will galvanize the community to contribute through affordable finance and encourage 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.

Funders and Partnerships

We have chosen our strategic partners carefully to ensure we deliver impact which can be taken to scale. To find out more about our funding and implementing partners visit our partner page here.

Photo credit for banner photo: Kristin Lau Photography