Chitral, September 30: Up to 2,200 new households in Chitral will now have access to electricity provided by two new hydropower-based Micro-hydel power stations. Through the rural electrification programme supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), two hydropower-based Micro-hydel power stations, 800 kWh in Yarkhun and 500 kWh in Laspur valleys of Chitral, have been built with a budget of PKR 160 million. The power stations will deliver much needed energy to more than 2,200 households and counter deforestation by reducing the usage of wood.
The project has been implemented by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in collaboration with Acumen Fund, Community Development Carbon Fund (CDCF) and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). In 2004, AKRSP was recognized for its pioneering efforts in implementing micro-hydel power stations winning the prestigious Ashden Awards also known as a the “green oscars”.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Laspur Microhydel, Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan, His Excellency Mr. Marc P. George said, “The project will increase economic activities, create new jobs, improve social services and make education and health services more reliable in the area. It will reduce deforestation and degradation of the natural resources as well as the use of diesel generators, which will lessen the carbon emissions into the environment.”
In Chitral, it is estimated that more than 200 Micro-hydel power stations supply energy to about half of the population. While providing a more reliable power supply to households in areas not covered by the national power grid, the Micro-hydel power stations will also support the energy needs of commercial endeavours fuelling new and diversified options of improving livelihoods. In addition to these benefits, social organisations including health and educational institutions will benefit from a constant supply of hydropower to ensure better medical care and to enhance operations of schools. The Micro-hydel power stations will be managed and maintained by the communities themselves through the mechanism of a power utility company.
The ceremony was attended by District Nazim, Mr. Maghfirat Shah, Mr. Akhtar Iqbal, Chief Executive Officer, AKF Pakistan, Mr. Abdul Malik, the General Manager, AKRSP, Mr. Irshad Khan Abbasi, Director Rural Development, AKF Pakistan and Mr. Ijaz Ali, Judicial Focal Point and Courts Specialist, UNDP/Swiss Assisted Access to Justice-Rule of Law Programme.
Mr. Akhtar Iqbal, CEO, AKF Pakistan, while acknowledging SDC’s long-term support in the mountainous and underdeveloped region of Pakistan, said that “the building of Micro-hydel power stations will not only lead to an improvement in the quality of life of the local population by making them economically more stable, but it will also help the environment and alleviate the workload of women as they will no longer have to travel outside the villages to search for firewood.”
District Nazim, Mr. Maghfirat Shah appreciated the efforts of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and said that, “AKDN’s role has been instrumental in engaging Local Support Organisations and Village Organisations in the development of the region. The district government will support AKDN in future programmes as well. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has played a key role through various programmes and has been a long term partner in the development of the District.”
Thanking the Swiss Government for their generous support, GM, AKRSP, Mr. Malik noted that, “this project highlights the strength of community led development that AKRSP has been fostering in the region. The newly constructed Raman project will provide electricity for lighting, heating and enterprise purposes. It will be managed professionally as a community utility and will serve as model for similar initiatives in the region.”
During his visit to Chitral, the Ambassador will also travel to flood affected places in Garam-Chashma and Kalash valley to review development, relief and rehabilitation interventions that have been funded by SDC.