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The implementation of micro hydro projects in remote villages in developing countries: An interdisciplinary approach

Murni, Sari (2014) The implementation of micro hydro projects in remote villages in developing countries: An interdisciplinary approach. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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An established body of literature now exists in the field of rural electrification projects in developing countries. Much of this literature has focused on the factors that influence the degree of success of projects and on their outcomes in terms of their impacts on the communities that they are used to supply. There are, however, large differences in rural electrification programs depending on the technologies used, and the amount of information in the literature that is focused on rural electrification of remote villages based on the installation of micro hydro systems (MHSs) is quite small.

This study looks at the planning and implementation of MHSs in remote villages close to the international border of Malaysia and Indonesia on the island of Borneo. Two case studies are presented – villages in Ba’kelalan in Sarawak and villages across the border in Krayan in North Kalimantan. The villages used as case studies are similar in terms of geography, ethnicity and religion, but differ in terms of economics and the policy frameworks in which they operate because they are located on different sides of a shared national border. The benefit of using a study area that includes micro hydro schemes on either side of a national border is that it is able to throw more light on the differences that policy frameworks make to the success of a micro hydro scheme. The premise upon which this research is found is that the planning, construction and implementation of MHS in remote areas such as this are complex and the aim of the research is therefore to obtain a ‘whole picture’ understanding of micro hydro scheme projects undertaken as rural electrification projects in order to attain a better understanding of the factors that affect the level of success and as failure of these micro hydro projects.

Data was collected through field surveys in which questionnaires and energy audits were administered to householders, while interviews were held with village headmen, village micro hydro committees, manufacturers, and with government and non-government organisations. Further quantitative data was gained from the resource assessment as well as supply and demand measurements for some of the micro hydro systems in the study area.

Based on the results of the field survey, the research defines critical activities associated with the MHS implementation process and factors/issues associated with each critical activity then been proposed to provide a framework which to guide future MHS implementation. One key finding from the study is that the degree of success of micro hydro projects in the research area was not determined by the existence of national or state government policy and reasons for this are suggested.
One recommendation from this study is that in order for a micro hydro project to be successful, its planning and implementation need to be well thought out. While the existence of guidelines, roadmaps or frameworks for MHS implementation is helpful in that they provide a process for developing a very carefully planned and detailed project management plan, the design and management of the projects vary considerably due to the uniqueness of micro hydro sites, and the differences in the local/community cultures and social systems.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor: Whale, Jonathan, Urmee, Tania and Davis, John
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