What is the Chambamontera Micro-Hydro Scheme?

Chambamontera is an isolated community found in the highlands of Peru. It is a rural settlement in the region of Cajamarca, Northern Peru. It is situated 1,700 metres above sea level, and is around 2.5 hours away from the closest town, Jaen. Its remoteness means that it very little access to basic services such as energy. Consequently, the locals are dependent on the services from local towns and cities.Micro hydro is a type of hydroelectric power that produces between 5kW to 100kW of electricity using the natural flow of water. In recent years, the Ministry of Energy and Mining in Peru has begun a process of rural electrification, extending the coverage of the national grid. However, communities such as Chambamontera are unlikely to be included in such schemes. As rural population densities are low and the cost of energy supply is high (compared with densely populated areas), electricity companies have little incentive to provide services to these families.

Charities such as Practical Action are introducing electricity to Chambamontera, through micro-hydro power. Local families earn a living by farming, particularly coffee, and rearing small livestock. Livelihood development and diversity is limited because the community has access to so few services. Chambamontera has a primary and secondary school, chapel, healthcentre and satellite telephone, all of which could be much more effective if connected to an electricity supply. The community is well organised and has some local Rondas Campesinas (peasant organisations), associations of coffee producers and mothers clubs, which bring local families together. Poor people require only relatively small amounts of energy to meet their basic needs. Micro-hydro schemes, therefore, represent a practical alternative; once established, they can provide enough power for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses, and can have a life-changing impact on poor, isolated communities.

Local families earn a living by farming, particularly coffee, and rearing small livestock. Livelihood development and diversity is limited because the community has access to so few services. Chambamontera has a primary and secondary school, chapel, health centre and satellite telephone, all of which could be much more effective if connected to an electricity supply. The community is well organised and has some local Rondas Campesinas (peasant organisations), associations of coffee producers and mothers clubs, which bring local families together.  As a result of this hydro-project, rural families will directly benefit from access to energy. An additional 100 families, living in neighbouring villages, have benefited indirectly through the introduction of electricity in Chambamontera. The lives of local families are changing through this project: houses and streets are being lit, coffee de-husking and processing is being mechanised, small businesses, such as carpentry workshops, are being developed and new businesses, such as battery charging, are being established.

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