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Revival of the uses of existing watermills on a demand driven cluster based approach

About the Implementing organization

Name: The Swaraj SHG

Country: India

Year of establishment: 2014

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Community enterprise or business


Access to modern infrastructure has led to the decline in the uses of traditional watermills which are indigenous in nature and a climate-friendly technology. GIZ in cooperation with its state partner Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) designed and developed an innovative approach in order to revive the uses of watermills. The approach is that a cluster of improved watermills owned and operated by an enterprise within the local communities addresses a specific demand for energy for livelihood activities. Five watermills were identified to form a cluster and demands to process products was linked with the collective energy available from the cluster of watermills.

Nature Element


Type of Action

Restoration / Sustainable use / Pollution prevention, clean up

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Renewable energy / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

A Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) study estimated that 1 improved watermills offset around 2.4 tonnes of CO2/year). Reduction in GHGs emission by way of avoiding energy generated from diesel/electric based mills to grind grains/spices. Around 24 tonnes of CO2 emission has been avoided from the pilot project of GIZ. As per UREDA estimate, there are around 15000 watermills in the state and thus there is a potential to reduce around 36000 tons of CO2e.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Watermill owners who were finding it difficult to run their watermills due to lack of demand were linked with demands of processing agricultural produces. This has led to the sustained use of watermills and better livelihood opportunities for watermill owners. Women who were earlier unemployed become members of the Group and got better livelihood opportunities and a better life.

Watermills which is an indigenous technology used to grind grains of the local community and thus ensuring food security. Products such as spices, flours, cattle feed become costly to local community due to increase in transportation cost to hills from the plain region. However, products manufactured in watermills lower the cost of these products and thus helps in food security to the local community.


The government of Uttarakhand through its different departments such as department of rural development, UREDA, department of animal husbandry have endorsed the pilot work of GIZ. The government of Uttarakhand has shown interest to develop a programme proposal based on the pilot work of GIZ. This will further help the government to replicate the pilot across different districts of the state of Uttarakhand. The state of Uttarakhand has around 15000 watermillsas per the survey done by UREDA.

Based on the pilot work of GIZ, a local NGO has secured funding from WISION to scale up the pilot work of GIZ. Other local agencies such as Reliance foundation, Himmotthan etc have also shown interest to scale up the pilot work of GIZ in other parts of the state.


Watermills are found in most of the hilly states of India. The name of watermills changes in the different state but the uses are same i.e. to produce mechanical or electrical energy. However, in almost every hilly state of India, the uses of watermills are declining or fully stopped. The pilot implemented by GIZ has a potential to be scaled up in other hilly states of India as per their local context. Many local organisations who are working on watermills have shown interest to learn the lessons of the GIZ's pilot and scale it up in their region.

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