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A green and sustainable future in the Kyrgyz Republic

By Volker Ahlemeyer

EBRD and EU support sustainable use of resources

The Kyrgyz have always enjoyed a special bond with Nature, unsurprisingly so, given the Kyrgyz Republic’s nomadic past, mountainous beauty and plentiful supplies of water and hydropower.

Preserving them is now more important than ever now that the effects of climate change are becoming apparent and the country’s glaciers have started to melt.

Mitigating the effects of climate change are at the heart of discussions at the recent COP 22 meeting in Marrakesh and the EBRD’s and EU’s activities in the Kyrgyz Republic provide a vivid lesson in how to do so.

The two partners support the sustainable use of resources and are stepping up their engagement by launching the next phase of the Kyrgyz Sustainable Energy Finance Facility (KyrSEFF).

The EBRD offers US$ 35 million in loans to local partner banks for on-lending to both local residents and small and medium-sized enterprises, while the EU supports these investments with more than €9.2 million in grants, through incentive payments and free technical advise on how to optimise energy efficiency.

This finance package is available on top of the previously committed US$ 20 million and €7 million, respectively.

A supermarket with community spirit

KyrSEFF has already made a tangible difference to more than 600 households and dozens of businesses – to Saltanat Kazykeeva, for example, and her neighbours.

Ms Kazykeeva opened her small supermarket “U Doma” in the capital Bishkek five years ago. She has been determined to support the local community, preserve the environment and fight waste ever since. Her shop already recycled meticulously paper and plastic, but she still wanted to do more and reduce the ‘less visible’ waste of energy.

“My husband and I have a young family with three children and like all parents, we feel responsible and want to build a bright and happy future for them,” Ms Kazykeeva explained.

“We have built up good relations with all our neighbours and clients. We wanted to lead by example and show how you can care for the environment.”

Her mission has been successful thanks to a KyrSEFF loan which allowed her to invest in measures to save energy in her shop – using halogenic lights, more efficient fridges and insulating windows properly. Various clients have noticed the improvements and consider doing the same. At the same time, Ms Kazykeeva has cut her energy costs by half.

We're working to reduce electricity consumption and promote sustainable use of water in the Kyrgyz Republic.

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Reaching out to remote regions

Another beneficiary is Toktor Mondurbaeva who works for the hospital in Naryn in the central Kyrgyz highlands. She knows first-hand, both from professional and personal experience, how long and cold winters can affect people.

Temperatures can plummet below -400C here so a lot of families huddle in one room of the house. But the heat still disappears fast through uninsulated walls and floors, she explains. Residents frequently catch colds, which can turn into more chronic diseases when untreated.

Her family’s health was at the heart of her and her son’s decision to insulate the walls of their home and replace the old windows with new energy efficient ones.

“I live with my son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren – the older one is in first grade and the younger one goes to kindergarten,” she said.

“After the insulation, we felt the difference at once and it was warm and cozy in all the rooms.”

Efficient use of water

KyrSEFF has been a genuine success story. It has helped reduce CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons every year. This is the equivalent to taking almost 25,000 cars off the road.

Various challenges still remain though. So the second phase of KyrSEFF now includes loans for using resources in general more sustainably – most importantly water.

The potential is huge: treating and saving water for the hotels at the tourism hotspots around Lake Issyk Kul, more efficient irrigation systems for farms in the fertile Fergana Valley or helping commercial clients combine water and energy savings.

The EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach seeks to scale up the volume of our climate finance. By 2020, the EBRD aims to dedicate 40 per cent of its annual investments to green economy projects, doubling the pace of financing in this sector compared with the last five years.

“These investments to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change are now more important than ever, here in Central Asia and elsewhere,” said Neil McKain, the EBRD’s Director for Central Asia.

“We are very much looking forward to launching this next phase of KyrSEFF and helping businesses and households in their ambition to build a green future for the country.”

“KyrSEFF II will give the Kyrgyz Republic the opportunity to save energy and water and at the same time become more resilient to climate change, said Jaap Ora of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic.

“We are proud to be able to support this with the EU’s Investment Facility for Central Asia, through which we have delivered more than €45 million for the mobilisation of big infrastructure projects with the EBRD.

“We are also hoping to support the increased use of renewable energy sources such as small hydropower plants in the future.”

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