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Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Will Russell


community development, India, micro hydro, Orissa, renewable energy, rural development

Subject Areas

Alternative Energy; Sustainability; Environmental Studies


Within the context of sustainable rural development and using action research methodology, the researcher identified and addressed challenges to implementing decentralized renewable energy applications for the rural poor in Orissa, India. The researcher used the dual role of practitioner and investigator to examine how participation of various stakeholders affected the functional longevity, productive use, and equitable outcomes of community-based micro hydro projects. Over several iterations of action research, the study established a practitioner's perspective on implementing a series of micro hydro projects, identifying obstacles, developing and implementing solutions, and evaluating the outcomes. The unfolding of a learning process allowed stakeholders to reflect on the approach used in initial projects and make modifications in subsequent projects. This resulted in a holistic evolution of the approach used for project implementation and sustainability, which focused on localizing micro hydro knowledge in order to establish the local skills required for sustaining the system. The conclusions contributed best practices and next steps to scaling community-based micro hydro for sustainable, equitable, and productive rural development in Orissa and other unelectrified regions.