In Pakistan’s remote Balochistan’s province, a partnership with BMZ has revolutionized flood affected communities’ access to energy, bringing lighting and clean cooking facilities to homes.
By Humera Karim and Aoife McDonnell
Sitting on the ground of their tiny mud house eight-year-old Aqsa and her younger sister Hafsa, 7, crouch together, their schoolbooks spread out and illuminated by the light of a new solar lantern. Normally the first-grade students were used to the day’s activities coming to an end once the sun had set – but not today.
Like many remote villages in Pakistan, their village Mir Hassan Khoso in Jaffarabad district, is not served by the national electricity grid, which would plunge the community into complete darkness every evening bringing business, studies and household chores to a halt.
“We are so happy because we can finish our schoolwork whenever we want – even late in the evening,” said Aqsa.
“Our dream is to continue our education so that we can support our family in the future,” she added.
Aside from helping them with their studies once they return home, Aqsa and Hafsa, use the solar lantern to guide them as they walk to the bathroom at night. Located outside of the family compound, late night trips to the toilet were a source of fear and worry for the two sisters. Now carrying the lamp, they feel safer.
Supplying energy to the family is part of a project to support 2,000 vulnerable Pakistani households in eastern parts of Balochistan province that were affected by devastating floods in August last year. Millions of people were displaced by the floods which also destroyed croplands and livestock and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities.
“We are so happy because we can finish our schoolwork whenever we want”
As part of a coordinated response under the leadership of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Committee (NDMA) and with other partners, UNHCR has delivered relief items such as tents, plastic tarpaulins, blankets and sleeping mats in the worst hit areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.
Since March 2023, UNHCR is providing energy appliances including energy-efficient cooking stoves, solar-enabled lights, and shawls. The assistance builds on a previous distribution of 68,000 lamps and stoves for refugees in Pakistan.
The sisters’ mother Husna Bibi, whose home was among those damaged in the widespread flooding, also welcomed the addition of an energy-efficient cooking stove. The new stove cuts fuel consumption in half and cooks the food faster than before, giving her more time to spend with her daughters. With fuel-efficient technology, the family also avoids the adverse health effects of cooking stove smoke and soot which filled their home on a daily basis.
“My eyes used to burn” said Husna Bibi.
The latest distribution is one component of a three-year programme between UNHCR and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to provide households with reliable and clean energy sources, including through solar powered lanterns, energy efficient cooking stoves, and connecting homes through solar powered grids. The aim of the BMZ funded programme is to improve refugees’ protection and wellbeing while also reducing the environmental impact of refugee operations through a transition to clean energy solutions. The assistance has also supported flood-affected communities as they reel from the effects of climate change.
Pakistan and its people have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades. UNHCR has stood in solidarity with the country and its people –during multiple natural disasters and climate shocks.
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter