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Bringing Electricity to Rural Pakistan

Residents of the Upper Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan have been walking in the dark for as long as they can remember. However, that is beginning to change, starting with the installation of a micro-hydropower station that will bring electricity to the region.

Electricity Benefits the Economy

The introduction of electricity in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Malakand Division has provided residents with benefits that most people take for granted. They can now walk safely at night without worrying about tumbling off steep paths. The 80-kilowatt power plant also allows residents in the region to continue working after sundown. A town elder, Zareen Gujar, said, “We in Serai have never seen any development activity since this country came into being, as we had no roads, no middle school or high school, not even a dispensary. We have been living a life of deprivation.”

Resources from Pakistan 

The power plant cost $105,000, of which about $9,000 was raised locally. It provides electricity to about 700 households. Micro-hydropower stations require less water than conventional hydropower stations, and can produce five to 100 kilowatts. It is estimated that 30% or more Pakistanis have no electricity, and those who do are subject to frequent blackouts. In a country with a severe energy crisis, the people must turn to their natural resources. The massive water potential in the Malakand Division, when used properly, can help alleviate energy problems in the area.

Living in Multidimensional Poverty

As many as 58.7 million people in Pakistan live in multidimensional poverty, including 46% of the rural population. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) measures poverty on five dimensions: education, health, water supply and sanitation, household assets and satisfaction to service delivery. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 33% of households live under the poverty line.

Developments like the micro-hydropower station help households attain access to energy, and therefore allow adults to work more efficiently in the evening and children to study into the night. Similar power plants are in the works for the area, a step that could lead to solving Pakistan’s energy crisis.

– Haley Sklut

Photo: Maati
Tribune, United Press International