Moral Low Ground


Harnessing Rivers in Pakistan with Micro Hydropower

A little dam goes a long way, and wins a 2015 Ashden Award for Sarhad Rural Support Programme. Visit the Ashden website ( to learn more. This video is part of the This Planet video series – see them all at This Planet (

Today, we take a look at the work of the Sarhad Rural Support Program (SRSP), a Pakistani NGO dedicated to “community empowerment and economic and livelihood development” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). SRSP is a 2015 Ashden Award recipient for its work bringing electricity via micro hydropower to residents in the Kalash Valley, in Chitral, Pakistan. The Ashden Awards are presented at a gala event in London and showcase sustainable energy trailblazers in the UK and the developing world.

“We used to burn diyar wood, candles and lanterns to get light,” said Kalash Valley resident Hazrat Gul. “[Then] SRSP came here and held meetings with us. They told us that micro hydro systems could be built here.”

According to the US Department of Energy:

If you have water flowing through your property, you might consider building a small hydropower system to generate electricity. Micro hydropower systems usually generate up to 100 kilowatts of electricity. Most of the hydropower systems used by homeowners and small business owners, including farmers and ranchers, would qualify as micro hydropower systems. But a 10-kilowatt micro hydropower system generally can provide enough power for a large home, a small resort, or a hobby farm. A micro hydropower system needs a turbine, pump, or waterwheel to transform the energy of flowing water into rotational energy, which is converted into electricity.

(US Department of Energy)

(US Department of Energy)

Micro hydropower offered immediate and life-changing impact for Kalash Valley residents.

“Since SRSP brought us electricity, we’ve used appliances in our homes. We benefit from kitchen appliances [like] washing machines, television, freezers” and more, said Gul. “Because we have refrigerators, vaccines are kept safe 24 hours a day and children are immunized.”

In addition to health and quality of life improvements, electricity has bolstered education and the local economy.

“We go to a computer center for learning. Small businesses have started up that rely on electricity,” said Gul.

Electricity has also brought home people who left to find better opportunities elsewhere, mostly in big cities like Islamabad and Peshawar.

“Today mobiles can be charged, and they have access to the Internet,” said Gul. “When all their needs are met at home, why would they leave the village? So now people are moving back.”


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