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In order to provide a sustainable use of the Micro Hydro Power Projects (MHPs), it is crucial to take into account the environmental state of the plant’s catchment area. Since degradation might decrease the retention capacity of the soil, the discharge might be altered and thus the occurrence of the river drying out or flash flood events may increase. All of this negatively affects the sustainable use of the MHPs, since without a continuous discharge, sufficient and sustainable electricity supply cannot be provided.
In order to provide sustainable land use and hence sustainable electricity supply, it is of great importance to manage the catchment carefully, which includes 2 steps:
- Environment Assessment and
- Watershed Action Planning.
The first step towards a watershed management plan is an Environment Assessment, which includes the selection, compilation and mapping of data on the watershed, with the aim to show its current environmental condition. The implementation of Environment Assessment helps to identify any existing environmental impacts and thus what mitigation techniques need to be implemented within the watershed action plan. Once the Environment Assessment is finished, all involved stakeholders come together to draw up a comprehensive watershed action plan, taking into account the findings from the Environment Assessment. Within this plan, all commitments are laid down and have to be agreed upon by the community. Depending on the crucial areas identified within the Environment Assessment, these may involve a combination of various mitigation techniques ranging from bio-physical to political measurements.
Carefully conducted Environment Assessment and Watershed Action Planning can sustain or even improve the environmental condition of the watershed, including the natural flow of the waterways. Thus sufficient and sustainable electricity supply generated by the MHPs can be provided. Due to the overarching approach, Environment Assessment and Watershed Action Planning can have further positive effects on the ecological and social condition of the watershed such as improvement of soil fertility and income generation. Environment Assessment and Watershed Action Planning should therefore be seen as essential parts of each MHP implementation.
- For manuals available on energypedia, click here.
- A useful manual for Environment Assessment and Watershed Action Planning was developed for GIZ EnDev Ethiopia by Katharina Meder an can be downloaded here.