Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent
Issue Brief

Community-Based Solar Irrigation in Chhattisgarh

Prospects and Challenges

Anas Rahman and Abhishek Jain
January 2022 | Energy Transitions, Sustainable Livelihoods

Suggested citation: Rahman, Anas and Abhishek Jain. 2022. Community-Based Solar Irrigation in Chhattisgarh: Prospects and Challenges. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.


This study investigates a community-owned and managed model of solar irrigation (led by women self-help groups) implemented by Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. It aims to assess the impact of irrigation access on agricultural incomes. The study also highlights the challenges and roadblocks in scaling up the women-SHG-based community solar irrigation model and the ways to tackle them.

Key Highlights

  • Solar pumps can help improve irrigation access for communities and areas hereto deprived of electricity-based irrigation. However, most marginal and small Indian farmers cannot afford solar pumps without financing.
  • The utilisation rate of individual offgrid solar pumps is typically less than 30 per cent, representing poor social returns against the public money invested in the pump. Community solar pumps can help address the challenge by enhancing asset utilisation.
  • A community-based ownership model is economically attractive to farmers, translating to an estimated 32 per cent increase in agricultural income for the participants interviewed.

Access to solar pumps significantly improved cropping intensity among participants

sector wise job creation

Source: Authors’ analysis

  • With the community-based model, the government can reach 15–20 low-income farmers with one solar pump instead of providing one subsidised pump per farmer thereby significantly expanding the reach of government-supported solar pumps.
  • Projects where only one SHG was involved had much better cohesion and dispute resolution mechanisms than when a pump was being shared between members of multiple SHGs.

Key Recommendations

  • Leverage existing networks of self-help groups (SHGs) created under the National Rural Livelihood Mission.
  • Sustain engagement with farmer groups to assist in complementary support mechanisms like training in cultivation practices and input support in order to augment outcomes.
  • Frame group rules to manage group dynamics through iterative learning.
  • Partner with existing departments such as livelihood missions as well as facilitator and anchoring organisations, like NGOs or registered producer organisation promoting institutions (POPI), for additional support in project design, capacity building and handholding the groups.
A community-based ownership model is economically attractive to farmers, translating to an estimated 32 per cent increase in their agricultural income.

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