Afghanistan micro-hydro programme wins global green award

Bonn/Eschborn. A micro-hydro programme bringing reliable, renewable electricity for the first time to remote parts of North East Afghanistan has won a coveted Ashden Award. GIZ and consulting engineers INTEGRATION were jointly awarded some £20,000 in prize money at a prestigious ceremony in London this evening, after joining other Award winners at a meeting with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Clarence House.

The judges said: “This is an astounding example of how harvesting natural sources of energy can bring new sources of income, hope and opportunity in a troubled region. And by working alongside each other, different communities in North East Afghanistan are coming together with a common interest, helping reduce mistrust and conflict.

On receiving the award, David Hancock of GIZ, said: "We are delighted to receive this prestigious award. Financed by the German Government, the programme has demonstrated that a reliable electricity supply can make a real difference to communities, organisations and small businesses, particularly in Afghanistan's remote, mountainous provinces."

Oliver J. Haas of INTEGRATION added: "Working with local communities means that our activities are sustainable and benefit future generations. Tapping into renewable energy for economic development also enhances local governance mechanisms and contributes to stability."

The Award was presented by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO and Chair of UN-Energy, who in his keynote speech urged governments around the world to use the opportunity of Rio+20 in June to increase their support for clean energy pioneers like GIZ/INTEGRATION.

Said Dr. Yumkella: “The decisions that will be taken at Rio in June will carry consequences for generations to come. Governments around the world must act urgently to agree the right policies and investment incentives that nurture these and other sustainable energy champions, before it’s too late.”

With funding from the German government (some US$6 million in 2011), GIZ and INTEGRATION have worked with the Afghan Government to install six micro hydro plants in Badakhshan. With a total installed capacity of 1.3MW, they are providing 24-hour electricity for the first time to 63,000 people, 110 public organisations and 645 small enterprises.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal organisation with worldwide operations. It supports the German Government in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and in international education work. GIZ helps people and societies improve their prospects and living conditions.

Download photos of winners’ work: www.ashdenawards.org/media/international_photos/2012_finalists  
From Thursday 1 June:
Download photos of the Award ceremony: www.ashdenawards.org/media/photos/2012_ceremony  
Download photos of HRH Prince of Wales: www.ashdenawards.org/media/photos/2012_HRH

Broadcast quality footage of the winners’ works and clips from the awards ceremony are available on request.

Call for entries for 2013 Ashden Awards
We’re now seeking entries for the 2013 Ashden Awards. Full details of the prize package, criteria and application forms are on the Ashden website: www.ashden.org/apply

Key facts
• In Badakshan, only 3% of households have access to electricity.
• 84% of people in Afghanistan lack grid electricity
• GDP: US$501/year per person

Abdullah, a tailor in Nalan said: “I learned how to be a tailor in the refugee camp in Pakistan, where my family fled from the fighting. I came back seven years ago and set up shop then. I've had electricity for the past year and it has made a big difference.”

Dawlat Mohammad, Jurm District Governor said: “If there’s a security problem, people can live with it. If there’s a problem with water, they can live with it. But if people find they don’t have power for just one night, they all come hammering at my door!”

Notes to editors

  1. The Ashden Awards were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of local sustainable energy to address climate change and alleviate poverty. Since then they have rewarded over 140 green energy champions across the UK and the developing world and improved the lives of 33 million people worldwide, saving over 4 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Ashden’s Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales (www.ashden.org)
  2. This year’s four international winners and a Gold Award winner were awarded a total of £120,000 in prize money to help them scale up their work.
  3. GIZ and INTEGRATION have been recognized with the Award for Rural Electrification.
  4. The UN has designated 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. In response, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a new global initiative – Sustainable Energy for All – which aims to achieve three major objectives by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. www.sustainableenergyforall.org
  5. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella is the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as well as Chair of UN-Energy, a UN umbrella body dealing with energy-related issues. He plays a key international role in raising awareness of the need for universal access to energy, increased energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy – the three major goals of the UN Sustainable Energy For All campaign.
  6. Some 1.4 billion people around the world lack access to modern energy, while 3 billion rely on ‘traditional biomass and coal as their main fuel sources.