Clearing the canal for a pico-hydro plant. Photo: Martin Wright

The Eastern Africa office of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG-EA) in Kenya has installed very small 'pico-hydro' power systems for two remote communities on the slopes of Mount Kenya.

These projects provide over 200 homes with lights and power points. As well as giving light to study by and power to recharge appliances like radios, the electricity also opens up new income-generating possibilities to villagers, from chicken farming to charging points for mobile phones – a social and economic lifeline to health workers, family and markets elsewhere.

The schemes’ size and design avoid environmental disruption while providing a cheaper and safer alternative to kerosene and lead-based dry cells. Equally important is ITDG’s success in bringing about a proposed change of policy in Kenya to help create a decentralised electricity market, allowing micro-schemes such as these to thrive countrywide.