Access to energy supporting production with renewable energies in isolated communities in Bolivia




Practical Action implemented the project ‘Improving access to energy and supporting production with renewable energies in isolated communities in Bolivia’ that implemented low-cost construction methods for a 60-kW micro hydroelectric power (MHC) plant, which provides 56 Amaguaya families with electricity 24 hours a day.

Project Description

The project was implemented from 2012 to 2014 in the community of Amaguaya, in the municipal jurisdiction of Guanay, Larecaja province, La Paz region. The objective of the project was to improve the quality of life of the population and to support production using renewable energies. The arrival of electricity also brought a significant improvement in the services provided by the health post and the school not only to the Amaguaya people but also to neighbor communities, which indirectly benefit from these services. Electricity also helps to strengthen production activities making better use of community resources and promoting women’s participation. One of the project innovations was the management of the micro hydroelectric power plant for the provision of electric services. A community enterprise for rural electric services, consisting of an administrator and an operator, was created to perform this task. The administrator and the operator were trained in the operation, maintenance and administration of the system with a business vision. Also the project proved that the access to energy through renewable sources helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the effects of climate change.


It benefited initially 56 families, 110 students, 9 teachers, the doctor and the nurse of the local health post (who provide health care not only to the Amaguaya people but also to neighbor communities). Making better use of community facilities was another benefit of the access to electricity.


1. Construction of a 60-kW MHP Plant 2. Capacity Building - Creation of the Community Enterprise for Rural Electric Services (CERES) consisting of an administrator and an operator who are in charge of managing the electric supply - Beneficiaries awared of the importance of electricity; development of good practices for the management of a MHP plant; 60 families trained in the management model; 10 people trained in the operation, management and administration of the MHP plant; and 4 production units trained in yarn production using Llama fiber and in artisanal textile manufacturing. 3. Productive Development: production units engaged in the production of artisanal yarn using small spinning machines and producing artisanal textiles.

Business Model

The sustainability of the project is based on the management model of the MHP, it proposes three actors: Municipality,CERES and the final users. The Municipality is the owner of the system according to the current regulations. The CERES is responsible for the administrative management and technical quality; provides the reports to the Municipality and the Community, and has trained personnel involved.Beneficiary community in the responsible for oversee the management of the company.

Lessons Learnt

The coexistence between the community and the privately run business allowed the creation of the CERES for the management of the MHP. It complies with established specifications for an isolated electrical system following the parameters of quality of supply. The tariff model of descending blocks for systems with renewable energy, allow the productive use of energy and minimally cover the cost of operation and maintenance. The existence in the local market of equipment and materials should be checked to avoid greater resources. The institutional strengthening and the creation of local capacities contributed to the development of the project.

Key Feature

Monitoring was implemented during the construction, training, operation and transfer of the MHP. Scaling up considers the productive use of energy and its sale to surrounding populations. Property The Municipality held an Agreement on assignment in use of the MHP gratuitously with the supplier community. Replicable, the project brings together different types of funding sources like international cooperation, municipality and community groups.

Other significant information

Gender approach: 30 women had active participation in the construction of the micro hydroelectric power plant and participated in the training workshops. 4 women were trained in operation, maintenance and administration of electric services; 3 spinning groups and 1 textile manufacturing group were formed. Environmental flow: The Amaguaya River is key to sustaining the ecosystem located downstream the intake structure. The water used for generating electricity goes back to its original place ensuring water availability for the communities located downstream. The use of a 60-kW generator set that operates with diesel fuel prevents the release of 342 tons of carbon dioxide per year and allows saving US$70,000 in fuel. The project proved that accessing energy through renewable sources helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Main Donor

Svenska Pos¬tkodStiftelsen
(International agencies)

Implementing Actor

Practical Action (Soluciones Prácticas) (NGOs)