Solar Water Pumping Programme (SolarMUS)


Providing affordable and reliable water to communities in Nepal since 2012


Water Access in Nepal

Two-thirds of Nepal’s population live in hilly or mountainous regions that are remote, poor and cannot be easily served by conventional water systems. The vast majority of hill communities still rely on collecting water manually from distant sources, which is seen as a major constraint to improving health and livelihoods.

The burden of water collection falls mainly on women and children who spend several hours each day carrying water along steep, dangerous slopes. Often women can only collect enough water for 10 litres per person which is well below the 45 litres per person per day recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Solar Water Pumping Programme Overview

SolarMUS is Renewable World’s largest and highest impact programme. This simple system uses solar energy to pump water to storage tanks in hilltop communities, which then uses gravity to transport the water for washing, cooking and agricultural purposes. The potential to lift water over 200 vertical metres with equipment lifetimes of up to 20 years makes SolarMUS a highly practical solution. To date, we have delivered 29 SolarMUS, lifting an incredible 436,843 litres of water per day (enough water for 7,000 showers) to a total of 8,475 people.

 Read more about our Solar MUS technology

Programme Impact

  • Average £240 increase in annual household income
  • 82% increase in households growing vegetables as a result of improved access to water
  • 68% decrease in illness and injuries from water-carrying
  • 82% of women and girls saved an average of 2.4 hours per day that was spent collecting water
  • 44% of the executive members in water user committees are women

SolarMUS II Actions and Impacts

Between 2015-18, Renewable World partnered with the Big Lottery Fund to deliver phase two of our SolarMUS Programme, which alone lifts 284,787 litres of water per day. Guided by our Community-Centred Model, Renewable World also delivered livelihood training to 2,927 people, with the support of local partners, to ensure longevity of impact at each project site. This has improved people’s knowledge of which crops are best to grow in their climate conditions and helped families sell crops at their local market, with clear results. For example, the communities reported an impressive 70% increase in household income, with 43% of households reported a greater consumption of fresh vegetables and 85% declaring they now feel healthier than before. Additionally, a huge 95% time saving from collecting water was reported, creating room for incomegenerating activities and more family time. Overall, the project has directly increased these vulnerable communities’ resilience to climatic and socio-economic shocks. Through SolarMUS II, Renewable World also developed a viable scale-up model to guide future programmes. By part-funding the costs of capital infrastructure with grants and then supporting communities in sourcing funding from locally available grants and subsidies, we encourage community involvement on each project. We support community-level contributions in cash and in kind and we have seen that this helps to ensure long-term community ownership and sustainability of each project.

Next Steps

Launching in 2018, Renewable World is delighted to announce a new partnership with Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) and the Unica Foundation. Building on the strong foundations of SolarMUS I and II, this new chapter will place climate change resilience, environmental protection and safe water use at the heart of a project to provide direct water access. This will benefit at least 550 households in four communities in Surkhet that are situated above their water source. We expect this 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. This will also offer us the opportunity to pilot ‘real time monitoring’ to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of each system.

Sabitri’s Story

Sabitri lives in Naram Gaun, a village in the Gulmi district of Nepal. A year ago, her life was dominated by a two hour round trip to the nearest water source four times a day. Sabitri’s 15-year old son, Rashkumar often collected water up to four times a day.

“I used to get up at 4.00am and sometimes even 2.00am to get in the queue to collect water. It meant I could do nothing else other than just survive.” – Sabitri

“There were fights over others pushing in the queue. I got very tired and very fed up, and I missed lessons and whole days of school.” – Rashkumar, Sabitri’s son

Last year, Renewable World installed a solar-powered water pump in Sabitri’s village, one of 17 in Nepal supported by the BIG Lottery Fund. The community contributed 480,000 Nepalese Rupees (about £3,132) in cash and sourced 1,610,000 Nepalese Rupees (about £10,512) of in kind contributions. Renewable World’s Team supported the community to access locally-available grants, funding 57% of the infrastructure costs. The community also helped to clear ground, mix cement and dig trenches for pipes. Renewable World then organised finance and governance training for the Community Water Users Group. Fast forward to Summer 2018. Sabitri now has a vegetable garden full of lush beans, tomatoes and cauliflowers, irrigated by her new tap stand. After she takes her produce to the village vegetable collection centre, it is crated up and delivered to the market. Last year, village’s vegetable sales totalled 12,500 Nepalese Rupees (around £82). This year, their sales have already reached 30,000 Nepali Rupees (around £196). All three boys have stopped collecting water and no longer miss school.

“I have time for homework and playing volleyball with my friends. There is a local competition and we have time to practice. This year, we are going to win!” – Rashkumar, Sabitri’s son


Learn more about our work helping communities access safe, reliable water in Nepal through the video below



10-Year Impact Report

Read our 10-Year Impact Report and find out more about our work.