,Review of Gender and Social Inclusion in Renewable Energy Sector in Nepal By Ram Prasad Dhital
Gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) is recognized as an important factor influencing development outcomes in Nepal, with various constitutional and legal provisions incorporating GESI mandates. On the ground however, lack of participation of women, the poor and excluded groups (termed henceforth as “disadvantaged groups”) at all levels of public life continues. Disadvantaged groups experience a number of barriers, that constrain their access to energy, including the high cost associated with grid extension, especially in remote areas with sparse population density and lack of economic opportunities (making it financially unviable to extend the grid); high up-front cost of new energy technologies.
Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), as the government corporation responsible for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, has reached electricity to 77% of the households (97% in urban and 72% in rural areas). Meeting the ever-growing energy demand is constrained by already strained transmission and distribution infrastructure, limited instrumentation and control, high cost of service and system losses, especially in rural areas, and a stagnant state of
technologies. In such a scenario, potential application of advanced distribution systems and intelligent network (smart grid) technology solutions is considerable.
In the rural context, Nepal’s community based rural electrification model, implemented through electricity user cooperatives (EUC) (also called CREE or Community Rural Electrification Entity), has been an effective approach. As local bodies, EUCs can potentially serve as vehicles for promoting community-led economic development through productive use of electricity, empowering disadvantaged communities. However, presently, most EUCs are plagued with limited revenues and poor profitability, largely because of poor electric loads. Electricity demand is mostly limited for the purposes of lighting and mobile phone charging (and not for income generation or businesses).
One identified gap within the EUCs is a limited involvement of women in these bodies. A study of the Community Rural Electrification Program found that in the six study districts, of the 66 technicians, not one was woman. Within NEA, women comprise around 10% of the employees, mainly as support staff and assistants, with no women at senior management. Participation of women in EUC management, women, as energy consumers, represents a substantive clientele for NEA. Embedding GESI within NEA operations can help NEA management to develop social inclusive and equitable energy programmes with more gender-equal development outcomes.
The TA programme aims to strengthen capacity of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), particularly its Environment and Social Studies Department (ESSD), and the National Association of Community Electricity Users Nepal (NACEUN) in mainstreaming GESI in their program and programme cycles and promoting in accessing and supporting the productive use of clean energy technologies and services by women, the poor and vulnerable. The specific objectives are as follows.
I. Develop GESI strategy and guidelines for the NEA to mainstream GESI in energy programmes and projects
II. Train and develop knowledge and skills of the NEA, and ESSD staff in mainstreaming GESI in their operations and application of the guideline
III. Develop social safeguards (resettlement and indigenous people issues) procedures and manuals applicable to energy projects under NEA and train staff in its application
IV. Promote GESI in accessing and supporting productive use of clean energy technologies and services by women, the poor and vulnerable households of EUCs under NACEUN’s initiative.
V. Train and develop capacity of NEA staff in new energy technology applications
The programme is funded by ADB. International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (HIVOS/ ENERGIA) The Netherlands is the lead implementer while Ricardo Energy and Environment (Ricardo), Centre for Rural Technology Nepal (CRT/N) Practical Action Consulting (PAC) Nepal are the consortium partners and National Association of Community Electricity Users Nepal (NACEUN) is the strategic partner.
Scope of the Programme
TA programme has 3 key outputs with specific activities and targets under each outputs:
Output 1: Strengthened capacity of the NEA, its PMD/ESSD and NACEUN in mainstreaming GESI in energy programmes and projects
Output 2: Productive use of clean energy technologies and services by poor and vulnerable households
Output 3: Developed capacity of NEA staff in new energy technology applications
1st January, 2019 – 19th June 2020
Dhading, Lalitpur, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli and Kathmandu Districts