Community-based Micro Hydropower for Electrification and Livelihood of Remote Indigenous Villages in Mindanao

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This project combines the installation of a community-based micro-hydro power (MHP) system for household lighting with the establishment of a multifunctional mill in the communities of Datalnay and Dlumay in Southern Mindanao, the Philippines. It is being jointly implemented by SIBAT and its local partner CLANS (Centre for Lumad Advocacy and Services). The project beneficiaries are subsistence upland farmers, belonging to the B’laan tribe of the Lumad Ethnolinguistic Group. The MHP system is expected to produce around 11kW, and will provide off-grid electricity for lighting in around 60 households. Over 300 households are also targeted to benefit from the mill enterprise, which will provide energy for the post harvest processing of rice and corn. The intention is that the mill will also provide energy in the future for processing coffee. In addition, the tailrace water of the MHP will be used for irrigation to expand the agricultural production areas. The energy project is part of an integrated area approach to develop climate-resilient and village-level sustainable development initiatives. In addition to the provision of energy, it addresses the community’s food security concerns through the improvement of traditional rice and corn varieties and the expansion and diversification of food production areas, as well as promoting the rehabilitation of critical watershed areas for environmental management and the sustainable use of hydro power.

Technology, Operations & Maintenance

The water source for the hydro project is the Bangat Spring, which has the potential to operate the mill for 8 hours per day with an estimated milling capacity of 150kg per hour for 8-10 months per year. The 11 kW of energy produced will be enough to power the 5-7 kW multi-functional agrimill and provide electricity to the surrounding households. Local community members assisted in the construction phase of the project, predominantly by helping to build the main components of the installation i.e. the power house and the agrimill, by undertaking tasks such as digging canals, hauling materials and equipment and by carrying out carpentry and masonry work. The MHP powerhouse site was deliberately designed to accommodate the directly coupled multi-functional agrimill, which was custom-built for this purpose. The next steps during the implementation process were the construction, installation, testing and commissioning of the powerhouse and post harvest technology.
The upcoming phase of the project, which covers the period from April to June 2010, mainly comprises the completion of the electromechanical components.  

Financial Issues & Management

Alongside the installation of the corn and rice mill, capability-building courses have been carried out to equip the community with entrepreneurial skills and technical and financial managerial competencies. The MHP system is supported and sustained by tariff payments from household consumers and corn mill users. A community project management committee has been formed for the mill enterprise to formulate and enforce the maintenance, operation and management policies. WISIONS, Green Empowerment and the German Embassy in the Philippines support the project. Electro-mechanical devices were donated by Canyon Hydro and the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives supports the water and irrigation system.

Environmental Issues

The project addressed the community’s food security concerns by delivering agricultural improvements and by making seed banking of traditional rice and corn varieties possible, and simultaneously achieved its stated objective of rehabilitating watershed areas for environmental management and micro- hydro power generation. The project helped to raise environmental awareness among the local population about the need to preserve the watershed.

Social Issues

The first phase of the project included making preparations on a social level in order to ensure that the community was ready for the implementation phase to follow. This involved making the community aware about the concept behind the project and its objectives, as well as setting the work schedules for the civil works, which involved members of the local community.

Results & Impact

This project serves as an illustration of the productive use of renewable energy in combination with improvements in agricultural cultivation and processing. The positive outcomes are better
food security and an improvement in the health and nutrition of the community.


There is good potential for this project to be replicated nationally, as it fits in with a broader vision to bring water, watershed protection, electricity and sustainable agriculture to 100 villages in the Philippines that are not connected to the electricity grid. The aim is to provide approximately 10,000 households with electricity through the so-called “100 Villages Campaign”. Similar projects have already been successfully implemented in the region.

Lessons Learned

The MHP project started in May 2008 and ends in autumn 2010. It was originally scheduled for implementation within one year, but several external circumstances hindered the project’s progress. The Philippines in general, and this region in particular, have been experiencing unusually severe storms and heavy rainfall due to climate change, which negatively influenced the technical work and hauling of material. There were also crop failures resulting from an erratic season, which made it difficult for the locals to provide sufficient food for themselves and the project site. At the outset of the project, military activities in the region were also a threat to the project team as there was the risk of being caught in the conflict. This situation has been improved during the project by protection given by the local government unit.

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