Energy, infrastructure and basic services

This is an archive page. For the most recent information, please see our main page on Energy, Water and Sanitation in Latin America.

Access to infrastructure services programme

Government investments in the supply of basic services have frequently opted for costly centralized infrastructure, which very often is not only inefficient for the conditions of rural areas, but also excludes most of the population who do not have the required resources to afford their installation and maintenance.

Erection of a wind turbine, Namora, CajamarcaIn Practical Action, we believe that decentralized, locally-managed services are, in most of the cases, the best solution to provide energy, water, sanitation, and communications to poor rural communities. Therefore, research is carried out to develop low cost alternative technologies. We also implement innovating financing and management models, and work in the areas of knowledge dissemination and in building local capacities to contribute to the provision of these services in rural areas.

These activities are carried out in the areas of

  • renewable energies - rural electrification, micro hydro power stations, wind and solar energy
  • water and sanitation for rural communities
  • new technologies - nanotechnologies, bioenergy, and information and communication technologies, or ICTs

The programme is involved at a regional level in south-south technology transfer, training, and information dissemination, collaborates with other Practical Action offices, members of HIDRORED and other networks in Europe and North America promoting renewable energy and rural electricity.


The Energy, Infrastructure and Basic Services programme aims to contribute to improving the living conditions of the poorest, creating and promoting greater access to energy and water for domestic use, while preserving the environment. Its objectives are:

  • To develop and adapt technologies for small scale renewable energy and water supply
  • To achieve transfers of technology and know how to strengthen local capacities in Latin America
  • To promote technologies developed through pilot projects
  • To develop organizational models for the sustainable management of projects and services
  • To promote environmental preservation and rational and efficient energy use by small businesses
  • To promote policies in favour of the target beneficiaries of the programme
  • To establish links with individuals and similar institutions in Latin America with the aim of sharing experiences and knowledge.

More than 40 pilot projects, designed to disseminate technologies, demonstrate comparative advantages, benefits, accesibility (economic and social) and sustainability, have been implemented. Achievements include:

  • Micro hydro plants have been installed in different areas of Peru, bringing clean energy to more than 3,000 poor families.
  • More than 200 new small businesses have been possible with this energy.
  • 50 solar energy systems have been installed, giving energy and opportunities to poor families in Cajamarca.

List of energy and infrastructure projects in Latin America | Project news

Technology development and transfer

The programme has developed technologies to manufacture low cost and low maintenance machinery and equipment to harness local energy resources, and has transferred their construction to local workshops. For example, small workshops in Peru and Bolivia have been helped to manufacture Pelton turbines of up to 250 kW.

The programme has also developed methods and techniques for low cost civil engineering works, particularly relating to microhydro energy.

Technologies available for transfer include:

  • Pelton Turbines ranging from 10 to 250 kW
  • Pelton pico Turbines ranging from 0.2 to 10 kW
  • Motors as generators ranging up to 3 kW
  • Windmills for pumping water - up to 5m diameter.
  • Flat collectors for heating domestic water
  • Use of rice husk in smallscale brick making


UNEP prize for energy work
Practical Action's work in renewable energy in Peru was awarded the 2008 UNEP Sasakawa prize for making a substantial contribution to the protection and management of the environment.



CEDECAP energy trainingTraining activities are an important part of the Energy programme's work, and Practical Action has developed national and international short and longer duration training courses.

The CEDECAP renewable energy demonstration and training centre in Cajamarca offers training courses combining theory and practice.


Practical Action is working with GVEP in Peru, as part of the MEM-GVEP coordination platform, on a national energy action plan for Peru. Under IDB funding, Practical Action has completed an assessment of the existing status of renewable energies and biofuels in Peru.

Information dissemination

The programme produces books, journals (HIDRORED), technical articles and pamphlets, and is on the editorial board of "Pico-hydro" produced by Nottingham University's Energy group and the "Energía y Desarrollo" journal of CINER (Bolivia).


HIDRORED is a Latin American network of individuals and institutions with an interest in small scale hydroenergy. Practical Action is the national coordinator for Peru.

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