With the support of the Asian Development Bank, Norway, and other donors, the government in Nepal is improving electricity distribution and efficiency, working to end the country’s energy crisis.
In the plains of Nepal's far west region, better power supply has already helped to improve quality of life and support new economic activities.
Nepal - With only 84.9% of Nepalese households enjoying access to electricity, Nepal has been facing an acute energy crisis.
Industry and businesses are limited by the shortfall in power supply, and rural areas have suffered the most.
"Earlier, we faced a lot of difficulties due to lack of electricity. Sometimes, there was no supply for up to 24 hours," says Dal Kumari Shrestha, a farmer from Ranipur, Bardiya.
"Even if there was electricity the voltage was not adequate to function the mill properly; it was challenging. Sometimes, we had to wait for 2 to 3 days to use the mill as the electricity supply was not regular."
With the support of ADB, Norway and other donors, the government is striving to improve electricity distribution and efficiency and end the country’s energy crisis in the coming years.
"These projects supported by ADB and the Norwegian government will help support system reliability, quality and stability," comments Kulman Ghising, Managing Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority.
"It will also support industrial growth and the government’s plan to provide access to electricity access for all within 5 years. The most important part of these projects is to will boost the overall economy of Nepal."
Nepal relies heavily on run-of-the-river hydropower, with little or no storage capacity.
This leads to shortages in the dry winter season when the flow in the rivers is at its minimal.
"ADB assists Nepal Electricity Authority in expanding generation, transmission and distribution network for reliable energy supply throughout the country," says Mukhtor Khamudkhanov, Country Director of ADB’s Nepal Resident Mission.
"The Asian Development Bank provides assistance in facilitating cross-border power trade to ensure that electricity can be imported during the dry season and to able to export electricity in the future."
Bardiya in far west Nepal is the setting for an award-winning national park.
But hotel business has suffered due to lack of power.
"We had to operate a generator all the time," says Mohan Lal Chaudary, Chairperson of Nepal's Eco-tourism Development Forum.
"The sound of the generator disturbed the neighbors and purchasing fuel for it was expensive. It also led to environment pollution. It was a very challenging time."
Various hydropower projects are nearing completion. This will boost electricity supplies in the next few years along with cross border electricity trading.
Existing transmission and distribution systems are being upgraded.
And new high-voltage transmission lines, grid substations are already delivering more reliable power.
In the plains of the far west region, better power supply has helped to improve quality of life and support new economic activities.
"The construction of the substation in Bhuregaun has proved to a be a boon for entrepreneurs," explains Mohan Lal Chaudary, Chairperson of the Eco-tourism Development Forum.
"This has increased the tourist flow."
"Life has become easier after getting access to electricity," Kamal Prasad Chapai, a farmer from Ranipur, Bardiya.
"I am easily able to operate water pumps with the click of a button. It is cheaper than buying fuel."
"ADB is good partner to Norway and the Government of Nepal and they helped the government to manage work related to this huge project," comments
Solveig Andresen, Counsellor at the Royal Norwehian Embassy in Nepal.
With the power supply in place, far west Nepal, much like the rest of the country is looking to the next phase of development.
"Now, the situation has improved and we have good supply of electricity," says Sabitra Thapa, who owns a mill in Ranipur, Bardiya.
"My earning has improved as my mill has been operating for longer hours due to regular supply of electricity. My business is going good."