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Powering Lives

By Practical Action On 28.09.2023 EnergyBlog

Part 4 of our series of blog posts: A past, present and future Shaped By Ingenuity.

Practical Action’s ethos has remained the same since the days of E.F. Schumacher’s influential book. But our approach and our solutions are continually adapting to the ever-changing world.

Electricity can power schools, hospitals, and local businesses, allowing people to escape poverty. But for people living in remote communities, who aren’t connected to national grids, accessing energy is a huge challenge.


Micro-hydro power systems are a great energy solution for some rural communities. Turbines are placed within a river and driven by the flowing water, producing electricity. We’ve worked with communities in places such as Peru and Zimbabwe’s rocky eastern highlands to introduce micro-hydro systems. Unlike solar power, micro-hydro generates electricity 24 hours a day. But of course, it only works in places with a dependable flow of water.

Micro Hydro image

THEN: Turning natural water flow into energy.

A complete clean energy solution

Our recent work with refugee communities in Rwanda and Jordan is an excellent demonstration of how energy access can transform lives. In partnership with the IKEA Foundation, we’ve been supplying clean energy and clean cooking to displaced communities.

It enables refugee communities to run businesses, schools, and health clinics. It creates a safe environment at night and allows business and leisure to continue after dark. Being able to make an income, or go to school, frees refugee communities from dependence on aid. They gain independence, possibility, and dignity.

Bienfait is a refugee camp resident who trained as a renewable energy technician as part of the project: “I’m proud to be able to help people in my community get connected to power so they can move on with their lives.”

NOW: Renewable energy creates opportunities for refugee communities.

Today, we combine renewable energy production with new business skills and market access. Together, these solutions create huge change in people’s lives, allowing businesses to bloom, creating more opportunities and employment for more people.