It is unfortunate to share the news that from 29 January 2010 Nepal has begun a system of daily power cuts for 11 hours a day, and it is expected that the period of the day without power may grow. (Although, compared to last year's 18 hour blackouts, this is actually a small improvement). Even though there is a total hydropower potential of 83,000 MW, only 42,000 MW is reported to be economically viable. Around 60% of the Nepalese people don't have any access to electricity but all have high expectations that the coming government will provide electricity to their villages.

For the last 3 years, Nepalese people have been facing a severe shortages of electricity. Population growth, modernization and the concentration of people in the cities creates a high demand that cannot be met by the current very low supply. Of course, investment in hydropower is one of the most attractive sectors in Nepal, but the Maoist armed conflict and an unstable political situation in Nepal have discouraged investors from putting their capital not only into hydropower but any industries that demand large commitments. People find it difficult to secure even a small investment into micro-hydropower that requires a relatively small amount of capital. Donations and other types of taxes demanded by the Maoist party during the conflict further discouraged investment.

Besides, work in general was relatively unsafe for most people. Generally, hydropower dams need to be built in remote areas where the cardres of the Maoist party were located. Frequent strikes and bandhas (a form a protest which effectively shuts down an area for a period of time) have also been an obstacle for regularly operating any factories and industries.

The power cuts mean people have been facing many problems in their day to day life; for example they are unable to meet deadlines of any work due to power cuts. Sometimes there is no electricity at the office when I arrive and no electricity at home when I return from the office. The Nepal Electricity Authority is managing power cuts according to timetable that affects different places at different times. This demonstrates how the conflict can continue to affect day to day issues, even several years since actually fighting has ceased.

Posted by Ambika Pokhrel, Local Correspondent for Nepal, 3 February 2010