Well, looks like my optimism hasn’t paid off. It has started to get colder, and the Nurek hasn’t melted enough to make a difference. The UN has stepped in to provide some aid and Embassy’s are suggesting people to “consider” leaving the country if it’s not necessary for them to be here. However the worse the situation gets, the more I want to stay. There’s a term for people who are interested in relief work, “adrenaline junky” and I’m starting to feel the adrenaline over the hovering crisis… however I’m working in development here, not relief, and as an intern I’m sure they would evacuate me before the situation got too bad. But it has confirmed in me that I definitely want to explore relief work in the future, but for now I will just stay safe and do as I’m told.
To anyone reading this, your thoughts and prayers for the people of Tajikistan are greatly needed as they go through this very difficult time!
Energy crisis in Tajikistan Situation Report No. 1
Source: United Nations Development Programme
Date: 31 Jan 2008
Tajikistan is experiencing its harshest winter in three decades with temperatures that have averaged -15 degree Celsius during the day and have dropped as low as -25 degrees at night in capital Dushanbe. Many antiquated water lines have either broken or become frozen/clogged, with a major impact on the availability of water for the past seven days. Sub-zero temperatures and water shortages may be expected to continue.
Tajikistan's potential to produce electricity is estimated at over 300 billion kilowattohours per year - the greatest hydroelectric capacity in the region. But due to lack of installed hydro-electric power stations, the country is dependent on its neighbors for electricity during the winter. The country imports electricity from Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, but these supplies are limited due to power shortages in these countries, a situation that emerges every year.
In rural areas population receive one or two hours of electricity a day. Even in Dushanbe, electric power is limited and many residential areas have no electricity overnight. The only exceptions to these periodic blackouts for now are residential areas, some of the hospitals, critically important industries in the country. Supply of electricity to the aluminum plant has been limited, even though this industry makes up 40% of the national GDP.
Tajikistan is consuming approximately 41.6 GWh of electricity per 24 hrs, of which 39 GWh comes from sources in the country. Of the electricity produced in the country, approximately 66% comes from the Nurek hydroelectric power station. Unfortunately, it is expected that the level of the reservoir supplying the Nurek turbines will reach a critical point where no more than 6 GWh per 24 hrs can be produced. When this situation occurs (anywhere from 10 to 14 days from now), Tajikistan will loose approximately 45% of its electrical supply. It is not expected that this gap will not be covered by other sources, leading to increase electrical shortages and longer blackouts. The humanitarian impact of these increased blackouts is not clear. However, the impact may be most significant for urban populations who depend on electricity for heating, cooking and the supply of water, and for the more vulnerable of these urban dweller, as well as clinics, hospitals and other mass-care facilities.
As a result of heavy snowfalls roads between several districts are blocked such as Khovaling, Shurobod, Muminobod, Temurmalik and Baljuvon in Khatlon region; Ishkashim, Darvoz and Murgob in GBAO and Rayons of Republican Subordination (Rasht Valley). These closed roads have als- had an impact on local supplies of food and other basic commodities.
The cold weather has overloaded the national electricity system. In Dushanbe alone, 58 transformers have been damaged, electrical supply lines damaged and services which depend on electricity (e.g., water supply) have been affected. to date, qualitative reports indicate the combination of unusually cold weather and electrical shortages has had an impact on human life and welfare beyond what is normally the case during winter in Tajikistan.
Two REACT meetings were held on January 29th to ensure information exchange and coordination of possible response. As an immediate action, UNICEF Tajikistan allocated $100,000 from its regular resources and from its emergency stockpile assisted Ministry of Health with the following items:
- 300 Jerry cans (200pcs - 10ltr and 100pcs - 20ltr);
- Bed linen - 200 sets;
- Baby blankets - 2230 pcs;
- Soap - 2000 pcs;
- Five emergency health kits for hospitals in Dishanbe;
- Toilet soap - 490pcs;
- Blankets wool-blend - 260pcs.
High protein biscuits have also been provided to orphan homes, boarding schools, maternity and children hospitals. An assessment of the local markets for procurement of generators for maternity hospitals and boarding schools has been started.
IFRC/ RCST are conducting an assessment and report will be ready by 6th of February.
WHO is planning to conduct a Rapid Health Assessment and is considering other assistance.
REACT, through its secretariat, is conducting an initial rapid assessment of the impact of power shortages in urban areas. This assessment may be later expanded to rural areas. A second assessment, focusing on the impact of electrical shortages at the Jamoat and District levels, to be coordinated through Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence, is also in preparation.
The government of Tajikistan has mobilised available capacity to provide electricity and heating for population and to clean the blocked roads. However, according to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there is a need for the following items to address the current situation:
- Transformers - 400, 630 and 1000 KVa capacity - 60 pcs;
- Under ground high-voltage cable - 6 km;
- Diesel generators - number and size not indicated;
- Food (flour) - quantity is not indicated;
- Fuel (mazut - fuel for central heating systems, petrol, kerosene) - quantity is not indicated.
Separately, UNICEF received a request from Ministry of Health for the following assistance for maternity and children hospitals:
- Generators - 70 pcs;
- Baby bed linen - 2800 sets;
- Soap - 2000 pcs.