The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has won the Energy Globe Award for its rural electrification project in Chitral, Pakistan. The award recognises innovative and sustainable projects that respond to environmental challenges and support communities. This year, AKRSP’s project was one of 2,500 submitted to the Energy Globe awards, hailing from more than 180 countries around the world.
AKRSP won the award for installing two micro hydropower units in Chitral – one in Yarkhun and another in Laspur valley – providing electricity to over 3,000 households. In this remote, mountainous region, many communities live in valleys which are often off the electricity grid, leaving them with limited access to basic services and utilities. In response, AKRSP has built over 148 hydropower plants across Chitral, which are managed by the local communities and supply electricity to over 49% of the population.
Mr. Jamil Uddin, General Manager of AKRSP, shared that, “AKRSP’s strength lies in partnering with the communities. They are the real drivers and owners of the projects and are responsible for their long-term sustainability. AKRSP, right from the inception of a project, works with the communities to build their skills to manage the hydropower units. The units have been life changing for the communities in Chitral.”
Access to electricity has benefitted children and women especially. According to one community member, “women now have less workload and children can focus on their studies, especially girls who now do not have to spend hours collecting wood or doing heavy chores that are now operated by machines run by cheap electricity.”
“AKRSP’s strength lies in partnering with the communities. They are the real drivers and owners of the projects and are responsible for their long-term sustainability.”
Mr. Jamil Uddin, General Manager of AKRSP Pakistan
This region of northern Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-related natural disasters, so generating energy in a clean, green and sustainable way is vital to building resilience to climate shocks and improving the quality of life. Micro hydropower plants are powered by the natural flow of water to generate a small amount of electricity. AKRSP’s units in Yarkhun and Laspur valley provide between 500 and 800 kW – enough to power a small village. By utilising the area’s natural resources in a sustainable way, AKRSP’s hydropower units not only produce clean energy, but also act as an effective climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy. Trees that would have once been felled to provide fuel can now be managed sustainably resulting in less soil erosion and greater biodiversity.
AKRSP’s work in renewable energy sector goes back decades – it has previously won the prestigious Ashden Award and the Global Development Network’s Japanese Award for most innovative development project. In this environmentally vulnerable area of Pakistan, AKRSP is committed to locally led, sustainable development innovations that protect communities and the mountainous landscapes where they live.
Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP)
AKRSP was established by the Aga Khan Foundation in 1982 to support communities in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to improve their quality of life and rise out of poverty. AKRSP supports a huge variety of community-led development efforts across a diversity of thematic areas, including climate resilience, civil society, agriculture and food security, early childhood development, education, climate resilience, community infrastructure development, credit and savings, enterprise promotion, and women’s economic empowerment.
For more information visit: www.akrsp.org.pk/