Streams and rivers are an important source of energy for rural households in Nepal. The country is scattered with thousands of traditional water mills, which utilise hydro-power for agro-processing services (typically for cereal grinding and paddy hulling). These mills can be easily improved to double their efficiency rate.
The basic principle of a water mill’s function is converting kinetic energy from falling water into mechanical energy. Improved Water Mill (IWM) technology increases the efficiency of traditional water mills, resulting in increased energy output. This is achieved by replacing wooden parts with metallic parts.
The IWM Programme in Nepal uses two types of water mills: short-shafted and long-shafted water mills. The former type is only applied for grinding, while the latter type is also used for paddy hulling, oil expelling, rice polishing and other end uses. The technology is not only used for agro-processing - one IWM can also generate up to 3kW electricity, which is sufficient to light and operate small electronic devices for up to fifty households.
SNV’s approach aims to develop a sustainable IWM sector, in which mill owners are encouraged to enter the market to upgrade their mill and enhance the services they provide to farming communities. SNV assists in improving access to credit facilities for mill owners. This results in socio-economic benefits for Nepal, through the stimulation of employment generation.