Consumer Awareness and Communication
Despite the expansion of Small Hydro Power (SHP) and other renewables in many countries, there are still some issues to be addressed in order to reach a fair level of development for this technology. One of these issues is the lack of awareness and information about the technology and its benefits. If policy-makers, energy planners, vendors, developers and consumers do not have access to accurate, easiliy grasped information on the technology, they will not be able to make a responsible choice of service.
Community mobilization is the process by which members a community come together to achieve collective goals.
The aim of Community Mobilisation is:
- To assist the community to make an informed decision about whether they want to participate in the projects.
- If they do, to establish the capability for the community to manage and operate a self-sustaining commune based micro hydro mini-grid.
Community Mobilisation is important because the community is expected to manage operate and maintain the project itself.
To make sure the scheme works successfully local people need to:
- know about and understand their responsibilities,
- be consulted and help to make decisions,
- help to build and operate the scheme (so they know how it works)
- commit to keeping it working by paying their fees, and have confidence that their fees are used properly
- benefit from the project
The principles that Remote Area Renewable Electricity Fund (RARE) fosters through community mobilization are:
- ensure people whose voices are not always heard (for example women, some poorer households) are encourage to speak up;
- ensure the community is consulted about issues that concern them and is involved in decision-making;
- foster the development of local organisations to develop themselves;
- develop skills in local people.
Challenges of community mobilization are:
- some people may be unwilling to give up their individual interests to the broader benefit of the community as a whole
- may create tension for the communes and organizations
- requires leadership and other skills that may not readily exist within the communes and organizations
- requires a greater commitment of resources, leadership and time - community mobilization may be perceived as less important than other aspects of the project
This project used a process-based, learning-by-doing approach to building and operating a micro hydro plant in this community. The community invested a significant amount in the project, both financially and in-kind. The community now runs and maintains its own power system,and is more interested in preserving the local forest than previously.
Well informed and mobilized communities will also be able to manage the watershed around hydro schemes in a successful way in order to reduce environmental impacts to the scheme.
The information is based on the report by the Department of Industry/ World Bank (2003): Remote Area Renewable Electricity Fund (RARE) Pilot Programm. Trainign Manual for Community Mobilisation
- Alliance for Rural Electrification, 2008