RenewableEnergy: Empowering 4,000 FilipinoFamilies

by Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), Inc.


To be able to survive on earth, people have to live intricately with nature… this statement, I hold true. First, we basically need water and food to survive; second, for the food we eat to survive it needs the minerals from the soil, the moisture  from the rivers and rains and to be able to flourish it needs the energy from the sun; third, for the clean and abundant fresh water and fertile soil, deep rooted trees, and lush greeneries are responsible; fourth,  for the lush mountains and indigenous forests, native faunas are important; and fifth, in all of these… humans can be the boost or bane of  existence. 

Kimbutan has been featured in many of our sharing at Global Giving the last of which is talking about the implementation of Sustainable Agriculture and Watershed development and the development of a micro-hydro power enterprise for the community.

Harnessing the energy of nature through more efficient micro-hydro power system and truly caring for their environment through their adoption of Sustainable Agriculture and Watershed Management is a big leap from the conventional economic activity of Kimbutan .

Moving Forward

The community is a picture of people moving towards economic development based on their natural resources and inherent capabilities, and marrying it to appropriate technologies that are also people and nature centered.

As of the current time, the community was able to initiate the Sustainable Agriculture and Watershed rehabilitation through trainings and establishment of a nursery and collection of 800 assorted wildlings of forest tree species, some of which are rattan,tuwel,red lawaan, alimit. Civil works related to the upgrading of the Micro-hydro power plant was also done. Policies for the water shed rehabilitation and management were also set-up.

It is a long way still for the people of Kimbutan but with the help they can get from other people --- from the people who believe that Kimbutan can move towards development through caring for and harnessing the richness of nature--- the future ahead is a development intricately woven by the people with nature.

Pulili locals installing submersible water pump
Pulili locals installing submersible water pump

A recent success story of SIBAT's work on Community Based Renewable Energy Systems (CBRES) in partnership with Rotary International is exemplified in the solar powered water distribution project in the community of Pulili in Lubang Island, Mindoro Occidental, Philippines.

Sitio Pulili, as with many other villages on dry and arid Lubang Island, suffers from water shortage and supply problems throughout the year.  In summer, several water sources dry up and make the already challenging daily task of collecting water more difficult.  In fact, even during the wet-season, many residents spend a significant portion of their day collecting water for drinking, cooking and other domestic purposes.  

Arnolfo ‘Arno’ Sigman, is a typical example. Arno and his son have to walk upwards of 1 km to manually collect water and carry it back to their house to provide for their family.  This task can take up to 2 hours of their day.

SIBAT development workers and renewable energy engineers have been working with the Pulili community and several project partners since November 2011 to develop a solar powered water distribution system to provide level-2 water access for 13 housing clusters around the village.

Major project activities have included design and installation of a solar PV power source; the development of a deep dug well; and installation of a complete water distribution and storage system including submersible pump, water tower, transmission and distribution pipe lines and robust tap stand collection areas.  

With the recent completion of the project in November 2012, a total of 13 tap stands provide clean water across the village, greatly reducing the time Arno and other villagers have to spend collecting water – one of the most basic of human needs.

The enthusiasm of the islanders for the water pumping project is indicated by Arno volunteering to be one of the first operators of the new water distribution system.  His time saved collecting water can now be used to work on his farm and help operate the system - a task he will receive remuneration for from a community fund generated via water tariff collection.  In the true spirit of community based systems, the community fund will also be used for any future maintenance and repair required, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project.  SIBAT will continue to work with the local community to develop the necessary local skills and policies required for project's sustainability and fair distribution for their household water supply.

SIBAT would like to thank the continued support of our project partners – Lubang municipal government, Rotary Club Lubang Island, Philippines and Rotary Clubs of Melbourne & Brighton Beach- Australia, District 9800 and Rotary Foundation and GlobalGiving donors  for enabling this project to happen.  The project objectives were achieved with the provision of  water, crop and livestock propagation and with the additional bio sand water filtration system provided, the community is assured of clean drinking water and removal of water borne diseases. 

Pulili, marked the second phase of installation, with a similar renewable energy powered water pipeline distribution system installed in 2011 in the neighboring island of Cabra, Lubang.

Furthermore, SIBAT has a list of potential Community Based Renewable Energy and Water Distribution projects and we are currently seeking funds to realise these projects, one of which will be a similar project in Barangay Looc, also on Lubang Island.  

We welcome any questions or comments you might have about the Pulili project or any of SIBAT’s work and would love to know what you think about the importance of water distribution and energy access to rural poor communities.

Maraming Salamat (Thank you very much)!

Arno, local operator, enjoying the water supply
Arno, local operator, enjoying the water supply
Locals testing water supplied by solar system
Locals testing water supplied by solar system
PV solar panels for powering water pump
PV solar panels for powering water pump
Water storage tanks on elevated tower
Water storage tanks on elevated tower
Completed tap stand delivering water to families
Completed tap stand delivering water to families
Kimbutan MHP Water Supply
Kimbutan MHP Water Supply

Developing the Kimbutan Watershed Management of the Kimbutan Microhydro Power Enterprise is one of the major activity of the Kimbutan upland farmers, as this will spell out a big difference for the sustainability of the MHP in the long run.

As such, firstly is a brief background of the critical watershed condition of the Kimbutan watershed catchment area that affects the water supply of the microhydro power project, and secondly how the Kimbutan upland farmers together with SIBAT will address watershed degradation through their proposed community-based watershed management plan.


Gradual forest denudation and land degradation is an alarming condition caused by continuously expanding swidden farming, charcoal and firewood gathering, and previous large scale deforestation by logging concessionaires. Deforestation and land degradation --- manifested by soil erosion and river sedimentation, landslides and muddy roads during rainy season makes the road leading to the community difficult to trek and worse, non-passable. The soil becomes unproductive during dry season because of insufficient water supply for irrigation of their upland farms. During strong typhoons, the ensuing landslides put heavy damage to the crops as what happened during the onslaught of recent Typhoons Pedring and Quiel last 2011.

Upland Agricultural Production.  The Kimbutan villagers' main economic activity is agricultural production of food crops such as vegetables, herbs and spices in upland areas. Vegetable varieties include cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, Baguio beans, sweet peas, carrots, squash, yakon (local rootcrops), among others. Herbs and spices varieties include ginger, bell pepper, celery, tomato, lasona (sibuyas Ilocano), among others. Rice and corn are being cultivated mostly for household consumption. Rice is the main staple for the community while corn is usually used as animal feeds. All households are into vegetable and herbs and spices production with varied degree of agricultural output depending on the size of lands that each is cultivating and the capacity to produce capital for farming inputs. Costly chemical-intensive farming and critical ecological situation. Commercial farming that is capital-intensive is the current practice in the community. As proven by studies and experiences across the country, this farming method is so costly that it leaves the farmer a net income of less than the expected income, or even nil/negative if the crops are damaged by natural causes. And as usual, poor farmers always rely to usury offered by, in the case of Kimbutan, the traders who have the needed capital. These loans are almost always charged with high interest rates, leading to the disadvantageous situation of the farmers as they need to pay more considering the less income that they are already expecting. In most cases, the traders financed the inputs of the farmer's production. In exchange, the farmer will directly sell the produce to the trader in a much lower price than the prevailing market price, thus, lessening the potential income of the farmer. Another cause of the chemical-based farming is the degradation of the soil that affects its fertility, consequently, leading to lower production in the long run.

Addressing the current degradation of the watershed is found to be urgent, more so as sustainability of the water source of the 7 kW microhydro project primarily depends on the watershed.

One of the main indicators of the watershed degradation has been the non-operation of the microhydro for three months every year which started in 2008. This indicates that there is a declining water supply in the locality that has not happened before when the microhydro was installed in 2003. As such, the Kimbutan farmers have firmly resolved to address watershed degradation through coming up with a community-based watershed management plan. Due to the urgency of the watershed problem, series of meetings were held facilitated by SIBAT staff. In the community meeting held last September 29, 2012 attended by 15 officers and members of the BKDFO and was able to come up with their own community-based watershed management plan. Another follow-up community meeting was held to plan out immediate activities last February 2, 2013 that includes developing the microhydro power enterprise scheme wherein the Peace Equity Foundation will provide a grant-loan mix for the technical upgrading and developing of the microhydro power enterprise.

Furthermore, as per the local government code of the Phils. RA No. 7160 enacted in 1991, the LGU can be an institutional support mechanism for the proposed community-based watershed management project. The LGU is mandated with certain forest management functions, specifically in management of and control over communal forests with an area of 50 km2 or less, establishment of tree parks and greenbelts and the implementation of the integrated social forestry (ISF).

Hydraulic Ram Pumps. SIBAT has experience with hydraulic ram pumps and believe this technology aligns well with the irrigation needs of the Kimbutan farmers' agricultural production. Hydraulic ram pump is an established appropriate technology, wherein a mechanical water pump uses hydraulic pressure from a body of water to pump water to higher ground. When used effectively, ram pumps can operate with little maintenance for a long period of time and SIBAT propose using this technology downstream from the MHP water intake to distribute water for irrigation around Kimbutan agriculture areas. The ram pump design and installation will be integrated with the proposed MHP upgrade design that will aim to optimize the water shed management of the surrounding Kimbutan area.


Herein is a brief description of the Kimbutan watershed management plan, primarily focused on rehabilitating the watershed catchment area critical to the operation of the MHP power enterprise that is being developed as a strategic community development plan. Watershed Management: Project Goals and Objectives. The main goal of the project is to develop and implement the Kimbutan community-based watershed management project that will rehabilitate the forest ecosystem of the critical areas of the watershed thereby preserving and optimizing water resources utilized for the MHP and their agricultural upland farmlots.

There were four specific objectives with corresponding activities identified for addressing watershed management, namely:

a.  To enhance and build capacities of the Kimbutan community on watershed management and upland sustainable development through conduct of capacity building trainings and practicum on: Watershed assessment, planning and management Integrated community seedbank/nursery establishment Agroforestry and sloping agricultural land technologies Upland Diversified & Integrated Farming System (DIFS)

b.  To initiate the reforestation of the MHP watershed catchment area of the 7 kW microhydro project with indigenous tree/agroforestry species. Nursery establishment for indigenous/endemic species (i.e., buwa-bunga, yantok, tewe/ballay, alumet, narra, White Lauan, fruit trees-), target for the first year: (1) 1,000 indigenous trees will be planted in the critical areas of the MHP watershed catchment near the Dangui creek (water source of MHP) and (2) 4,000 indigenous agroforestry species will be planted by the 24 households in their upland farm lots.

c.   To integrate hydraulic ram pump technology to complement the MHP component of the project and increase watershed management by providing water for irrigation To introduce and train the PO about ram pump technology and how it can benefit the community and proposed water-shed management project Identification of suitable locations and installation of two or more hydraulic ram pumps for irrigation purposes PO operator training on hydraulic ramp pump operation and maintenance

d.  To establish the multi-stakeholder cooperation for Kimbutan community-based watershed management. Production of IEC materials on watershed, biodiversity conservation, and MHP Networking, consultations and dialogues with the local government units (LGU - DENR, DA and NCIP).

Watershed Management Team.

The project management team will be composed of SIBAT project team in complementation of the BKFDO Watershed Management Committee. The SIBAT project composite team will be composed of a project manager, 2 renewable energy engineers, agroforester, community organizer and administrative support staff. Barangay Kimbutan Farmers Development Organization: Watershed Management Committee will be composed of the following members: Rudy Lasoy,  Benjie Besso,  Carame Pacliwan,  Gemma Amsahan,  Nardo Donguis,  Juan Balang, Gabriel Besso,  Francis Donguis and  Jean Alejandro.

Diana, EWB-UK volunteer engineer, assessing MHP
Diana, EWB-UK volunteer engineer, assessing MHP
SIBAT volunteers assessing household energy use
SIBAT volunteers assessing household energy use
Alistair & Lucas, housevisits determine energyload
Alistair & Lucas, housevisits determine energyload
Monitoring MHPcanal intake: SIBAT staff/volunteers
Monitoring MHPcanal intake: SIBAT staff/volunteers
Talking with Kimbutan mothers with their children
Talking with Kimbutan mothers with their children

Community-based renewable energy systems (CBRES) are small, decentralized power supply systems that are established through multi-stakeholder efforts distinctly with the significant participation of organized communities in project development, and are owned, managed and sustained by their local organizations.  These community-managed systems not only provide lighting for the households, but also provide the energy for food and crop processing and livelihood needs for rural households. 

Since 1994, SIBAT has installed 30 community-based microhydro power plants, six (6) photovoltaic water pumping (PVWP), and 4 small wind turbine-solar hybrid systems - considered to be the technology niches of SIBAT in rural RE development. 

SIBAT continues to develop, design and build community-based renewable energy systems (CBRES) with an overall goal to further develop the CBRES concept in order to enhance its significance in Philippine rural development, and sustainability as a strategy for rural development.  SIBAT strives to make these CBRES projects relevant, appropriate and beneficial to rural poor Filipino communities, and most of these projects are found in Northern Southern Luzon, and in Southern Mindanao where most of the partner communities are indigenous tribal communities living in the uplands.

SIBAT partners with various stakeholders - community and people's organizations, non-government organizations, local government units, research and academic institutions, renewable energy advocates (both individual and organizations) at the local and international levels.

One of our main partners is the Engineers without Borders-UK who has helped us by sending in volunteer engineers that complement our local engineers in project feasibility study, design and installation, capacity building activities, monitoring and documentation activities of these CBRES projects.  Currently, we have EWB-UK volunteer engineers namely, Diana Benato-mechanical engineer, Samina Islam and Ryan Sims who are both electrical engineers with experience on renewable energy technologies.

Another important and strategic partner is the Green Empowerment (GE), a US-based international NGO that has been a strategic partner of SIBAT for the past 6 years. GE has been providing assistance to SIBAT in program and technology development, funding support and international dissemination of lessons learned. Furthermore, GE will help establish private sector partners and draw from its extensive US university network to participate and learn from the project activities. These universities will then assist in documentation and lessons learned and spur further additional projects in the target communities.

Establishing community-based renewable energy systems (CBRES) has been one of SIBAT's main work since 1995 when the first community-based microhydro project was built together with the local NGO partner - Montañosa Research & Devt Center in Brgy. Ngibat, Tinglayan in Kalinga province.
Since then, SIBAT has helped establish 40 community-based renewable energy systems (30 micro-hydro, 6 solar and 4 wind systems) together with local partners in various parts of the country (please see attached list of projects).  
As of now, the main work done by SIBAT to help communities establish CBRES projects in their community are 
[1] power enterprise development; [2] improvement and consolidation of running projects; [3] pre-feasibility study development; and [4] strengthening of CBRES institutional capabilities. 
Reviewing and evaluating its current CBRES sites became the major thrust of the program guided by the goal of assessing its gains and enriching its ground experience.  Partner POs, NGOs, faith-based groups and the academe have been strongly engaged to collaborate on appropriate monitoring processes and determining a proper modality for CBRES development.  
Presently, the following are the accomplishments of SIBAT in enhancing and improving work in establishing community-based renewable energy systems (microhydro-MHP, solar water pumping and wind turbine-solar hybrid water pumping projects) in the Philippines.
  • At the community level, 75% CBRES projects have been revisited, monitored forging renewed ties and strong commitment to collaborate on proposals for technical upgrade, peoples' organization (PO) strengthening, capacity building and possible enterprises development.  This was achieved using new and improved technical monitoring and PO appraisal tools – also, using gender parameters) that resulted in a clearer and continuing plan for CBRES project partnership and community development.  Project local partners such as NGOs, POs and church-based institutions or groups have been reengaged with the end-view of further developing partnerships for CBRES.
  • A programmatic approach towards implementing the set activities was adopted by the Renewable Energy (RE) unit.  Stemming from a series of unit review and workshops with the end-view of developing a correct strategy at CBRES building, the unit devised a process of engaging firstly CBRES partner communities to participatory organizational assessments (historical transects or SWOT) to determine a correct profile of the organization and then build an intervention plan from there.  Nine (9) sites covering 3 focal technologies (MHP, photovoltaic-PV and small wind turbine -SWT) have been pre-selected for this exercise.
  • The succeeding process of module preparation, engaging assistance and expertise from the academe, and trainers pool building and actual conduct of trainings will proceed systematically according to CBRES technology type and by regional clusters
  • The pre-feasibilty study (PFS) and Feasibility Study (FS) developed for the period were still driven by requests covering 3 focal RE technologies such as micro-hydro, PV solar and small wind systems.  Two sites in Kalinga - Batong buhay and Gawaan requested SIBAT’s technical assistance through PFS of their hydro resource.  Because of security problems, only the Gawaan PFS and eventually FS were conducted.  
  • For the SWT, only the Buli-Libis hybrid systems of 1 kW SWT and solar PV for level upgrade of water pumping system progressed into full FS with funding counterpart from the Lubang LGU.  Full FS for the Biri SWT and Calbiga MHP development require bigger fund requirement and has to be deferred.  
  • Discussions and peer review on SIBAT quality standards for specific CBRES technologies specifically MHP, SWT and PV systems have been targeted by the unit within the year. 
  • Major focus meanwhile was devoted on the task of integrating socio-economic and gender elements on the range and set of CBRES tools and modules involved at every stage of the CBRES project development cycle.  These tools - from community orientation, PFS and FS surveys, project monitoring, etc., have  been subjected to team review, piloting, critiquing and revision to include a gender lens.  The final set of instruments and tools are still being prepared and packaged with accompanying manual or briefing kit for the unit staff. 
  • MIS development for the CBRES unit and projects has been piloted in select CBRES sites.  Tied up to the peer review and revision activity, new tools and better approaches are being developed and made available.
  • Advocacy work has likewise gained primacy this year embarking on internal study and discussions with allied agencies on fundamental issues such as Philippine RE law and EPIRA and how these impact closely to SIBAT’s current work.  Following this is the on-going ‘state-of-the-art’ research of various agencies implementing CBRES with the aim of bringing the results to a bigger forum in aid of legislation.

In short, much work needs to be done and all these needs resources that will help us in providing clean energy access for rural poor communities, thereby helping them with opportunities for livelihood and better quality of life.

Thank you very much for all the support that we have received so far, and hope that this will be a sustainable partnership with all of you!


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Organization Information

Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), Inc.

Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila - Philippines
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Florinda Concepcion
Quezon, Metro Manila Philippines

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