The micro hydro-electricity project in the rural village of Tamku in eastern Nepal is expanding. Recently, there has been an extension to a number of additional households, providing them with access to electricity. The electricity connection serves a few purposes. Firstly, to provide families with light so that their children can continue studying at nighttime and secondly, to support a growing nettle production industry.
The average electricity consumption per household is just 38 watts, but even this small amount of electricity can power four low-energy bulbs and make a big difference to the lives of pre-school, school-age children, and adults. Previously, the villagers were using fire wood to produce energy and light, because of the micro-hydro they are using a lot less wood and the forests around the village seem greener for it.
However, the process of extracting the fibers from the tough nettle stems is still using a large amount of ever growing scarce firewood. Transrural Trust is advising the nettle fiber producers to use “steaming boxes” to cut the consumption of firewood by two-thirds. Another improvement idea is to use a special kind of enzyme to help break down the fibers.
The Transrural Trust Director, Trevor Lucey, says they are also working on a few other life improving projects such as; kitchen gardens, greenhouses, and fuel efficient wood burning stoves. He says that it is “our aim is to demonstrate how a modest injection of external aid over a period of up to 10 years, when targeted accurately and combined with strong local participation and leadership, can result in sustainable improvements in the lives of very poor people. We aim to complete the implementation phase of our program by the end of 2017, and thereafter monitor/provide ad hoc support at arms-length.”