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Micro-hydro Bringing Electricity to Millions of Remote Indonesians

សំបុត្រអគ្គិសនី បោះពុម្ព PDF
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Download Indonesia is booming: the economy grew at its fastest annual rate for six years in 2010 and is showing no signs of slowing down.

But development is dramatically unevenly.

Almost 40 percent of the people in Indonesia don’t have access to electricity. Not even a generator.

But one woman Tri Mumpuni is trying to change that.

With her organization called Ibeka, she is planning to bring clean renewable energy to 90 million Indonesians who are currently in the dark.

Esther de Jong went to visit one such energy project on the Island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia.


We are driving to Umburundi a cluster of small villages where a little over 200 people live.  

The dirt road is rocky. It’s more than four hours drive from the nearest town.

This remoteness is one of the reasons why the village is still with out state electricity.

But now a micro-hydro, a machine driven by water, promises to bring electricity to the village for the first time.

Petrus Lambawang is part of the team who is building it.

“Getting electricity from the state run Indonesian company is just not the same. These villagers are responsible for this microhydro machine. For electricity from the state power company people only pay. This way is cheaper and it is a cooperative. They will manage their own electricity. It is renewable energy and the social impact will be much bigger.”

Water streams down through a red pipe. In a turbine the power of water is transformed into electricity.

It is a very small scale project.

Everyone from the village helped built this structure. Two villagers are being trained in maintaining the machine that generates enough power for all the people to have a television set, a fridge and lights.

50 year old Grandfather Daud Kapading Malahina is already planning what he will do once his house is connected.

“The first thing I would buy is a fridge, for ice and a tv for my kids.”

Daud shows me the home made oil lamp that is their only source of light after dark.

“I can’t read with a light like this and my kids can’t study with a light this small. When it is night and there is wind it is not possible to light this. Having electricity would mean the kids can study, the women can weave and men can work on other things at night”

In the last 20 years the NGO Ibeka has built 50 similar microhydro turbines in remote villages across Indonesia- in forests and on mountains.

These are providing half a million people with renewable electricity.

Tri Mumpuni is the the women behind the projects. The director of Ibeka.

“Electricity is the backbone of economic development. Electricity is not the end gaol, the end goal is improving the ability of rural people to have an added value of their agriculture product so they have more income by doing these activities and electricity is very important.”

The Indonesian government tries to establish similar projects in remote areas but Puni says that many of them have failed.

“The government is not thinking of sustainability when they built, they outsource, and that is not the right approach, whoever wins the bidding and some of the competition don’t even have the ability. I have so much evidence of so many broken projects from the government. We are already harvesting what we planted, the last 20 years, proper, community based and people driven, not just top down.”

Ibeka mostly waits for communities to ask for their help, then they go asses the needs of the community.

Puni spends most of her time raising money. Most of it comes from the United Nations and other international funding bodies. 

One micro-hydro machine costs between 9 thousand and 700 thousand US dollars.

But after that there are no monthly electricity bills.

And in one case Puni says a community in Java is earning month from the micro-hydro plant.

“They have a good income, by selling the electricity. It gives them 120 kilowatt streaming income of 600 euro per month for the local community.”

But there is still a long way to go.

In a small village in the mountains close to Waikabubak 32 year old Andreas Dapaloka still spends his night in the dark.

“We only sit, we chat, tell each other stories and talk about what we have to do tomorrow. I tell stories to the kids. Stories about live, that’s all I can do: tell them stories about the live, the future and how we can change our lives. With lamps we will be able to see in the dark, so the kids can read books. For me I just want to be able to switch of the light when I go to sleep.”


Learn English :

1) unevenly: tidak merata

2) streams: mengalir 

3) fridge: kulkas

4) weave: menganyam, menenun

5) micro-hydro plant: pembankit listrik tenaga air 

6) remoteness: keadaan yang terpencil 

7) renewable electricity: listrik  yang bisa diperbarukan

8) cluster: sekelompok 

9) backbone: tulang punggung

10) rural people: orang-orang yang di pedesaan


1) How many per cent of Indonesia's population don't have access to electricity and who is trying to change this?

2) What is the micro-hydro, how does it work and how many people in Indonesia will have access to electricity after these
machines   are installed?

3) Which organization is funding  these  projects and where have they been built so far?

4) How did the the villagers in Sumba react to this project?

5) According to Tri Mumpuni why did some similar government projects fail?

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