Micro-hydro for irrigation in Himalaya, Zimbabwe

Rural Sustainable Energy Development in Zimbabwe

In the midst of the mountains of the Mutare District of Zimbabwe lies a remote community called Himalaya, where Practical Action are implementing a four year energy project funded by the European Union.  

The area has abundant rivers which can be harnessed for irrigation as well as generating hydro power.  Farming forms the backbone of the community’s economy mainly through growing beans, wheat, maize and tomatoes and rearing cattle and goats. Powered irrigation will enable them to extend the amount of land cultivate and generate an income from selling the extra produce.  In addition a cold storage facility at the energy centre will keep produce fresh so that it is in better condition to fetch a good price at the market.

The community has two co-operatives, one is taking advantage of the plentiful supply of wood in the area to make fencing and electricity poles and the other implementing an irrigation scheme. They are also building a powered business centre.

Case studies

Oripa Mzama, 48 is chairperson of the irrigation committee and was working at the river to collect sand for building the energy business centre in the village. She told us:

"It is very hard work. We have to carry this sand and stones a long distance to the construction site.  But we are very keen for this project to succeed so we are eager to do this work.  Before this project electricity was a pipe dream for us, but now it will be real."

"The irrigation will change our lives, we will have crops all year round – peas, potatoes, beans and tomatoes as well as maize.” 

Steni Musiyaria is a farmer with 7 ha of land under cultivation. He has a wife and four children aged between 4 and 17. He is growing beans, maize and potatoes and he also has 7 cows. When his crops are ready they take them on a truck to Mutare. 

Irrigating his land will enable him to increase the yield of his crops so that he will have more to sell in the market and earn increased income.  The land will be irrigated during the dry season (May to October).  Steni is also training to maintain the pump for the micro hydro system and to work in the sawmill. 


Mike Chemwanyisa worked on the building for the community energy business centre.  He is 42 and has 5 children. He talks about the business centre which should be completed by the end of May. 

“The centre will have 5 areas for different businesses.  There will be a general store, carpentry workshop, hair salon and phone/solar light charging, plus refrigeration.  There are 84 members of the co-operative involved in this centre and they will all have a share in the profits.  Each business will pay rent to the community for use of the facility. The diesel powered maize mill operating here will also be able to use the renewable energy.” 

Ensuring sustainability

Previous experience with energy provision for rural communities in Southern Africa has indicated that it is not financially viable without end use production.  This project was designed to prioritise connections to productive end users and to support the establishment of businesses.

The electricity being generated will be used primarily for agricultural business enterprises - processing timber, water pumping for agriculture and energy kiosks for storage and processing of perishable products.

This use of energy should result in good income generation and sustainability for the system.  Case studies from Himalaya will be used to influence the promotion of mini-grids in Zimbabwe and Malawi.  Already a delegation from the Ministry of Energy and Power has visited the project with a view to replicating the model.

The project is being delivered in partnership with Oxfam, who are using solar energy for irrigation in Gutu District.

This project is funded by the European Union


Micro-hydro power

Micro-hydro power is a renewable, indigenous and non-polluting resource for the small-scale generation of energy using falling water.

Read more

MEGA Malawi

The Mulanje Electricity Generation Authority micro-hydro project in Malawi is a sustainable and ambitious social enterprise - aiming to tackle the dual challenges of sustainability and scale.

Read more

Rural Sustainable Energy Development Project (RuSED) videos

If the video player is not visible above, you can follow these links to the videos on YouTube:

Playlist of all RUSED videos

Case study from Bondo

Blogs about this project

Chipendeke and Himalaya micro-hydro
no comments