New Opportunities through Renewable Energy
The Jamoat Burunov in Vahdat district, to the east of the capital city Dushanbe, suffers from the challenges most rural communities in Tajikistan face: the lack of access to reliable energy. Almost every winter, as a result of its dependence on unreliable electricity imports, the country suffers from an energy crisis. It is estimated that over 1 million people live in rural areas with little or no access to adequate energy supply, which considerably hampers access to health, education and entrepreneurship. Large parts of the rural population are forced to increasingly turn to the burning of conventional biomass and fossil fuels to meet their energy needs.
Usually during winter electricity is supplied only for 2 to 6 hours a day. To secure lighting and the use of domestic appliances the population buys diesel/petrol power generators. An average family with a generator spends US$ 2.5 – US$ 6.25 per day for lighting, and 3,000 – 5,000 Tajik Somoni (US$ 625 – 1,040) per season for heating and cooking.
- The small hydropower plant supplies energy for lighting to 60 households, i.e. 400 people, the hospital, a mini dairy shop, the school (700 pupils) and kindergarten (80 children).
- Creating employment opportunities for the residents of the Jamoat.
- Ensuring a healthier learning environment for the kindergarten and school kids.
Zebunisso Alimova, 42 years old, mother of 4 children, whose husband works as a labor migrant in Russia, has faced the disadvantages of unreliable energy supply. In winter time the school of her children suffers from poor lighting and turns to the traditional biomass and fossil fuel fired heating system in the classrooms, without proper ventilation. This has caused lung diseases to two of her children, resulting in extra expenditures for treatment and non-attendance of school for prolonged time affecting their performance. “I had to spend almost 70% of the remittances from my husband for medicine and hospital fees, in addition to the very high prices for buying fuel for heating and cooking.”
With the help of UNDP the Jamoat was able to refurbish two small hydropower plants and water pumps, insulate the local hospital, school and kindergarten with energy efficient materials to better preserve the heat and construct a mini-diary workshop and a greenhouse. All these facilities, including 60 households, are connected to the small hydropower plants, ensuring access to reliable energy during the winter period. To guarantee the sustainable operation of the small hydropower plant, UNDP helped to establish a Limited Liability Company “Dehoti Obod” that manages, operates and maintains the hydropower plant. Through the project the capacity of the company’s personnel has been continuously increased through trainings and provided set of tools and equipment for more efficient operation. The company now has 7 employees.
With the energy efficient rehabilitation of the school and supplying energy from the small hydropower plant, the kids now attend a school that is insulated with energy efficient materials preserving heat in the classrooms, minimizing the use of unhealthy heating stoves. As Zebunisso continues: “Health services at the hospital have also improved. Previously, people used to be hospitalized under miserable conditions in the rooms with no heating, non-hygienic and cold, it is now completely different. The hospital is fully rehabilitated, rooms are insulated and warm, and the personnel are friendlier. All these factors lead to a speedy recovery.”
The provision of a basic amount of electricity to the most vulnerable group of people, together with the increase of efficiency, accelerates the progress towards the achievement of the MDGs. The pilot project implemented in Burunov Jamoat substantially improved the livelihoods of over 22,158 people, including 11,670 women and girls.