Lack of proper roads and access to main electricity grid made Katepola, an already remote village, nestled in the Ayagama divisional secretariat division of Rathnapura district of Sri Lanka, even more isolated from the rest of the country.
However, 465 families residing in the village, blissfully ignorant of their plight, continued to grow crops like paddy, tea, rubber and cinnamon, while a few worked in the gem industry. This was the situation of Katepola, when Practical Action (formerly known as ITDG), with an endeavour to ‘start from the community priorities’, with ‘the intention of minimising social exclusion’, approached the community with the simple and easy to maintain technology of micro hydro station. Together, with the active support of the community, the micro hydro plant started generating electricity. This was almost eleven years ago.
The small technical intervention changed the life of the community and opened a plethora of opportunities for them.
The electricity, thus produced, was chanellised between domestic and commercial requirements. When the issue of utilising the extra energy generated by the micro hydro arose, the community suggested the need for an information cum community centre.
In June 2005, the Katepola Education and Economic Development Centre was established with the technical support of Practical Action, and the financial support of the USAID