Enhancing Urban Lighting: A Pillar for Residents’ Safety and Sustainable Urban Growth

October 31, 2023

One of the streets in Atyrau where modern streetlights are installed

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

Atyrau is one of the cities in western Kazakhstan, nestled on the coast of the Caspian Sea on the banks of the Ural River. Its population keepsgrowing annually. The development of the city including its high-quality infrastructure and security directly, positively affects the economic development of the whole region and the well-being of its residents.

Сurrently, the city's street lighting system is modernized with the aim to foster safety and city’s sustainable development. Urban lighting plays manyroles in city infrastructure. It adds warmth and cosy atmosphere, accentuates landscape features, and brings architectural details into focus. Beyond aesthetics, it serves a critical function in safeguarding human life. Inadequate street lighting poses a risk at the driving and walking areas. Well-designed lighting increases the comfort of citizens, reduces crime rates and decreases the risk of traffic accidents. Furthermore, it bolsters the attractiveness of the city for its residents and tourists.

Residents of the city are confident that high-quality street lighting will ensure the safety of children. One of them is Ainur Zhumabayeva. Her district, called Taskala, is one of many benefiting from the lighting project. In total, around 4,000 people, district’s residents, benefited from the modernization. 

M. Baymukhanov Street in Atyrau

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

Ainur shares her impression about modernisation, and notes that, first of all, it has a positive effect on the safety of local children: 

“The new lighting has made a world of difference. In winter it is dark in the mornings. Walking my daughter to school was challenging in the dark, with dogs barking around us. It felt risky, especially in the early mornings and after sunset. But now, with the street lights extending all the way to the school, I’m at ease letting my daughter walk alone.”

This year, more than 460 modern street light luminaires were installed in 22 streets of Atyrau's new districts and more than 15,000 metres of street lighting network were laid. The upgrade has illuminated residential areas and vital public facilities, including schools, hospitals, shopping centers, and sports facilities. 

Renat Kairoshev lives in a private house in the same district. The man says that for the district where most of the area is occupied by private houses, new lighting helps to prevent accidents involving people and pets.

According to REN21’s Renewables in cities 2021 global status report cities consume approximately three quarters of the world’s final energy, and they are also responsible for about 75 percent of the CO2 emissions that come from the total global energy consumption. In this context, street lighting enhancement not only addresses safety but also contributes to energy and environmental sustainability. It also increases the reliability of the electricity grids and boosts the region’s economic competitiveness. Street lighting is typically turned on during peak electricity demand periods, such as early mornings and evenings, placing additional strain on power grids. Upgrading to more energy-efficient street lighting can reduce the necessity for electricity generation and contribute to enhanced grid stability.

Atyrau has stepped up in improving the city’s streetlights contributing to sustainability of the cities.

The modernisation and construction of the street lighting are one of the initiatives to introduce energy-saving measures under United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) initiatives in Kazakhstan on sustainable cities. The initiative is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Construction of the Republic of Kazakhstan and with financial support from the Global Environment Facility. Special financial instruments to support small and medium-sized businesses in implementing low-carbon investment projects in urban infrastructure have been developed under this initiative.

Within the project, energy-saving measures included improvement of the energy efficiency of apartment buildings in Temirtau and Astana and the modernization of heat supply systems in nine schools in the city of Shieli of Kyzylorda region.

In total, more than 45 green projects received financial support in Kazakhstan between 2018 and 2023. The results of implemented initiatives showed that each tenge of UNDP financial support attracts about six tenge of investments from the private sector. As a result, utility cost savings were up to 40 percent, allowing businesses and public entities to get economic benefits and be more environmentally responsible at the same time.