Barriers to benefiting from energy sector highlighted

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 1, 2018-Women and low income people including excluded communities face various structural barriers preventing them from benefiting fully from Nepal’s energy sector. 

Lack of access to energy forces women to spend a lot of time collecting fuel, taking them away from jobs, education and other activities for self improvement, says a study report unveiled by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 

Unveiling the study report entitled Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Assessment of the Energy Sector on Wednesday, the multilateral lending institution said social inclusion was a must for enhancing the social sustainability of the country’s energy development. 

“Promoting collaborative efforts in inclusiveness in energy generation and energy consumption could support empowering women,” ADB Country Director Mukhtor Khamudkhanov said. 

The study was carried out in 12 ongoing and completed energy projects including hydropower generation, transmission, distribution, micro-hydropower and mini-grid and solar-wind hybrid. Semi-structured interviews, eight focus group discussions and 31 surveys were conducted for the purpose. 

The study highlights that gender equality and social inclusion in energy enhances livelihood opportunities, ensures social benefits and improves health and education services to aid in poverty reduction. It shows that mostly men considered energy use for economic opportunities while in the case of women, it helps them to reduce the labour needed in household work.

High costs, lack of policy and institutional framework, low capacity of community-based power plants, consumer preferences, lack of appropriate incentive structures and misappropriation of subsidies, among others, are identified as the main constraints for inclusion in the energy sector.

Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Energy, said increasing women’s access in the energy sector could help promote efficient use of energy. “There is a need for readdressing the linkage between gender and energy in a well integrated manner that could result in effective outcomes in poverty alleviation.”

The government has prioritised implementing policies and programmes to enhance the welfare of women and socially excluded groups besides mainstreaming gender equality in the 10th Five-Year Plan. 

The current 14th Three-Year Development Plan seeks to address structural problems in the economy such as inequitable access to productive means and resources to ensure sustainable development and shared prosperity. 

Executive director of the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) Ram Prasad Dhital said that the government had recently started giving focus to bringing excluded groups into alternative energy production. “For the purpose, the government has revised the policy to provide subsidies to alternative energy promotion in 2012,” Dhital said. 

As per the AEPC, the management of most off-grid energy generation systems is handed over to the functional group formed at the local level. Dhital said the sustainability of such energy production largely depended on the participation of women in particular. 

Published: 01-03-2018 08:21

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