Rushan I Cross-Border Energy
The communities surrounding the Tajik town Rushan have been living without electricity for a long time. The harsh climate of the mountainous Badakhshan – or Gorno-Badakhshan, respectively – which spans both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, makes it even harder for people to cope with everyday life without electricity. For heating, cooking, and washing, the population has to collect large amounts of firewood, a time-consuming and arduous task often carried out by women. Fetching firewood can cost people three to up to seven hours of intense physical work each day.
Depending on wood as main fuel also means that heavy smoke pollutes the air inside people’s homes, causing symptoms of head- and limb aches, as well as long-term health damages such as lung and heart conditions. For children, living without electricity means not being able to go to school throughout the winter due to lack of heating. The presence of hot oil lamps and other dangerous items in the house also lead to burn injuries in the household, especially among small children. The environment takes its toll as well, since the constant need for wood supply leads to unsustainable deforestation of the surrounding area.
Co-Financed by: Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (RNMFA) and the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) through KfW and PATRIP Foundation
Implemented by: Aga Khan Foundation (UK) and Pamir Energy Company in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Duration: January 2015 – September 2019
Budget: 6,486,388.78 EUR
Direct Beneficiaries: 4,592 people (656 households) in Afghanistan and 4,632 people (772 households) in Tajikistan.
Indirect Beneficiaries: 23,058 people (Tajikistan)
Villages (re-)supplied with sustainable electricity: 17 villages in Afghanistan and 5 villages in Tajikistan
These observations were underpinned by a baseline assessment conducted by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) as part of the project. The assessment found that lack of access to electricity has complex consequences which exacerbate poverty. The cost of paying for organic fuel, health impairment, exhaustion and sickness from cold classrooms lowering the motivation to attend school, and the risk of injury on the daily trips to gather firewood prevent the communities from developing. Providing electricity is therefore a key factor for unlocking the population’s social and economic potential.
The project aimed at providing sustainable electricity to Afghan and Tajik villages. The Afghan villages had never had access to electricity, while villages on the Tajik side were left without electric supply since the “Vanj-Shipad-Deh” power line was destroyed during the Civil War in the early 90s. Hence, the project corresponded with the Tajikistan Government’s priorities to reconnect this area to electricity. “Rushan I” was also designed to promote cross-border integration and development in the border areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, an important aspect for both the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Foreign Office.
Involving the local community, where possible, can be a rewarding experience for both sides. The PATRIP Foundation welcomes the voluntary and paid engagement of locals, who are interested in contributing to the community infrastructure, in order to ensure complete ownership and operation of the facilities. Tajik and Afghan electricians, who were trained during the implementation phase of Rushan I, were subsequently employed by Pamir Energy, ADKN’s subsidiary.
During the construction process, local workers could reportedly earn up to 60,000 TJ Sin (~EUR 5.583,95) per season. In total, around 300 jobs were created in the course of the project, while the majority of the newly employed are youth. Micro-businesses such as small restaurants, various craft workshops, bakeries and similar entities now benefit from a reliable and uninterrupted energy supply, which in some cases revolutionises their efficiency.
AKF’s subsidiary for the Rushan I project, Pamir Energy, was set up in 2002 as a public-private partnership in a joint effort of the Government of Tajikistan and AKF. Financed by several international organisations, the company (re-)installs electric infrastructure in Gorno-Badakshan (Tajikistan).
The installed and improved power supply has reached around 9,224 people in total, bringing numerous positive effects in its wake. Due to cheap electricity, households can significantly reduce their costs for gas. Homes are freed from smoke, and access to information through TV and internet is possible. Beneficiaries have reportedly felt vulnerable in this respect, with scarce and unreliable information about the political and social dynamics increasing the feeling of isolation.
Vital aspects of communication are secured through the access to mobile networks, which provides a layer of security for the population, not at least in calling for help during emergencies. Internet access is essential for young people’s education and participation in the contemporary flow of information. Schools can finally be heated and equipped with necessary tools such as computers, which significantly improves the overall experience of going to school and therefore increases the children’s motivation. Furthermore, children are less likely to fall ill or be exposed to accidents in the household.
Moreover, the time women spend doing energy- and time-consuming household tasks such us heating their homes and washing has significantly decreased, which they experience as a huge betterment of their living conditions. Women can now find more time to do other things, such as spending more time with their children, furthering their own education, or earning an additional income for their household, thereby increasing their overall independence.
The PATRIP Foundation focuses on fostering the cross-border element of projects. This implies better cooperation on both a state- as well as a personal level, creating a better and safer environment for trade, travel, and access to public services. The “Rushan I Cross Border Energy Project” has yielded some outstanding results in this respect.
The shared responsibility for maintaining the (re-)installed energy supply has developed a platform for cooperation among the Afghan and Tajik authorities. Moreover, during the construction process, local electricians from both countries were trained and afterwards officially recruited by Pamir Energy as maintenance staff. Working towards a common goal with communities from both sides of the border fostered a sense of joint ownership, providing an opportunity to create an ever more stable social, economic, and political environment.
The PATRIP Foundation supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, all member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda, whose main purpose was the introduction of 17 goals for sustainable development (SDGs). The goals aim at the joint creation of a world in which people are able to live together peacefully, as well as in ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective ways.
The described project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals: