Expected energy shortages in Kyrgyzstan will affect school children


Kids at cold school in Tajikistan.
Last winter countries in Central Asia experienced severe energy shortages, the situation being most severe for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In temperatures down to 30 degrees below zero electricity disappeared for days and weeks, with grave consequences for households, hospitals and schools. Kyrgyzstan is now preparing for a new winter with energy shortage. Daily power cuts are now reality in the capital Bishkek, and “winter holiday” from 20th of December till February is already announced for all schools.

Kids in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are often kept back from schools in order to work in the fields. There are several reasons for this, one being work migration to Russia mainly, which leave poor districts without of big parts of its male population. Without husbands/fathers, women and children have to take care of work in the fields. Winter is the time when the kids have best opportunity to attend schools, and the closure during winter time deprives the kids of important education.

School buildings in these countries are in general in a very bad condition. Even new schools can lack heating system and water/sanitation facilities. Insulation is mostly non-existent, and windows and doors have often wide open cracks. The result is that the educational situation very often is poor during wintertime. With indoor temperatures falling down to around 10 degrees, kids are sitting with coats on indoor. Many schools don’t have the possibility to heat at all, and have to close for the coldest periods during the winter. This is still the first time a national plan for closure during winter has been announced in Kyrgyzstan. In Tajikistan no plan for closure of schools has been announced so far.

In rural and mountain areas both schools and households usually heat with indoor stoves, using firewood/branches, dried manure, and if affordable, coal. The fireplaces are very inefficient, and need a lot of fuel. Health problems caused by smoke are frequent. Degradation of forest and vegetation due to collection of wood is a widespread problem. In particular women and children use a lot of time for collection of firewood. Norges Naturvernforbund has visited schools where teachers and pupils have to use their day off in order to collect firewood for heating of the school.

Despite of this situation, we see repeatedly that even simple and cheap measures for improvement of the energy situation are not realized. Together with local NGO partners Norges Naturvernforbund therefore implement practical energy project in order to increase knowledge and reduce barriers for application of low cost measures on energy saving and renewables. Insulation of schools, windows restoration and solar water heating are examples of our practical projects. 

Norges Naturvernforbund implements also the educational project SPARE in all countries of Central Asia, in order to teach kids and teachers on environment, energy, climate and development. Within the project the kids also do practical low cost energy saving measures at schools and at home.

 

 

 

 

The energy shortages in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan occurred due to a dry summer and winter 07/08, where water storages in the mountains did not get filled up. The lack of water in the mountain reservoirs has also other consequences. Wanting to keep the water for production of electricity in the winter, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan now keep water back from the rivers, which normally are used for irrigation in the regions lowlands, also in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This has implication for regions like the Fergana Valley, where scarce water resources already are a grave challenge.