Energy Efficiency

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 663–681 | Cite as

The impact of microhydroelectricity on household welfare indicators

  • Mary KarumbaEmail author
  • Edwin Muchapondwa
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Energy and Climate Economic Modelling


The use of small-scale off-grid renewable energy for rural electrification is now seen as part of the sustainable energy solutions. The expectation from such small-scale investment is that it can meet the basic energy needs of a household and subsequently improve some aspects of household welfare. However, these stated benefits remain largely hypothetical because there are data and methodological challenges in existing literature attempting to isolate such impact. This paper uses field data from microhydro schemes in Kenya, and propensity score matching technique to demonstrate such an impact. We find that on average, households connected to microhydroelectricity consume 1.5 l less of kerosene per month compared to households without any such electricity connection. In addition, non-connected households spend 0.92 USD more for recharging their cell phone batteries per month in comparison to those who were using microhydroelectricity service. Finally, school children from households that are connected to microhydroelectricity were found to devote 43 min less on evening studies compared to those without electricity. The findings provide interesting insights to some of the claims made for or against use of off grid renewable energy for rural electrification.


Microhydro Rural electrification Impact Kenya 

JEL classifications

C21 Q01 Q42 



The authors are grateful to the Environment for Development (EfD) for funding the fieldwork for this study, and the enumerators and households in the three counties of the Republic of Kenya that participated in this study. We also acknowledge financial support in preparation of this article from Economic Modelling for Climate-Energy Policy (ECOCEP)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social SciencesLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden

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