The remote villages of Wagdal and Peera in Pakistan's Punjab now have electricity thanks to a clean energy system installed with ADB support. Residents were trained to operate and maintain the facility, ensuring its long-term sustainability.
Khushab district, Punjab province, Eastern Pakistan - For decades, the villages of Wadgal and Peera did not have access to electricity or clean water.
Back then, life was tough for the residents.
Villager Basra Khatoon remembers: ”It was a time of crisis, there was no water and the nights were completely dark. Snakes and scorpions would bite people in the darkness. We survived because God is merciful. There was no water available and we had to fetch it from a dirty pond. We were always thirsty and hungry.”
In 2017, Pakistan brought electricity to these two villages with support from the Asian Development Bank. A hybrid wind-solar energy system was installed, providing 50 kilowatts to over 500 people in 80 households.
Senior Project Officer Ehtesham Zafar Khattak of ADB Pakistan Resident Mission says: “And for that, we needed a consistent supply, 30 kilowatts was from solar, and then we had 2 small wind turbines of 10 kilowatts each, so that is also installed. So we have a hybrid solution, solar-wind combined, which is the first of its kind in Pakistan.”
A water pump was installed, providing villagers with clean water. Free electric appliances were also distributed. The entire community felt the impact of finally having electricity.
Villager Basra Khatoon says: “We are happy now that be it day or night, when we are looking for something, we can find it by turning the light on.”
Maintainance has traditionally been a weak point of renewable energy projects.
Ehtesham Zafar Khattak says: “What happens is that the NGO or any donor comes and installs the system, and after one year, because of the lack of operations and maintenance, it becomes dysfunctional and slowly dies down.” So, villagers in Wadgal and Peera were trained to maintain the hybrid energy facilities.
Ehtesham Zafar Khattak adds: “The villagers should feel and own this station, so they should not only see it, but they should also operate it. It is easy for a person to pick it up, he should have a technical background at least, he should understand words being used, but apart from that, he should know how to get the data from the computer which is arranged.”
This project is part of a bigger renewable energy program being rolled out in five Asian countries, bringing renewable energy to rural communities across Asia and the Pacific, one village at a time.