A bright idea for a green business in rural Tajikistan

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With an incredible 300+ sunny days a year, Tajikistan seems primed to be a solar powered force to be reckoned with. 

A recent UNECE report notes that solar power “could satisfy 60%–80% of the population’s demand for 10 months in the year.” 

Solar business makes a lot of sense for a country that has a vast potential for solar energy – and where power shortages during the winter are more the rule than exception.

Yet there remains little solar energy experience on the ground. Knowledge exchange and technology transfer are crucial if we want to see green solutions take off in the country.

Today in Tajikistan, water is heated with firewood, which both takes time and contributes to the deforestation that is wreaking havoc on the country (some areas already have lost 70 percent of their forests in last 20 years!).

In addition, the use of wood in lower efficiency stoves has contributed to air pollution, causing additional health risks.

This is why our regional and national teams joined forces to see if our green successes from Croatia might just work in Tajikistan.

With the knowledge that around one million men work abroad (largely in Russia), we designed a pilot project to focus on the women who remain behind.

First, we conducted a training for trainers in Dushanbe, in which 12 people from private companies and the university were shown how to produce a simple solar thermal system.

This week, 15 women will join the workshop in Jilikul village (next to the Afghan border) to build their own solar hot water system.

We started by producing the first prototype in Croatia – by focusing on affordable and available materials that can endure hailstorms (in the Tajik mountains, the weather can be brutal).

We also had to ensure our prototype wouldn’t get frozen in winter. It took several days to complete it, and lots of searches in the Tajik market for available equipment, but we finally did it.

Finally, we produced this manual, which takes you step-by-step on how to build the solar thermal system yourself!

To be continued on the Tajik-Afghan border…

Stay tuned!

This article was orginally posted on the blog Voices from Eurasia.

Environment Europe & the CIS Croatia Tajikistan Gender equality