How Access to Sustainable Power Is Changing Lives In this Small Punjab Village

Lying on the banks of Chenab River in southern Punjab is Muzaffargarh district. It houses many rural settlements including a small village called Basti Bullah Baloch. The village is home to 450 households, most of which are associated with and heavily reliant on agriculture.

The village shares its environment, culture, economy, and challenges with the rest of the neighboring settlements. Wheat farming is the key source of livelihood that keeps a majority of Basti Bullah Baloch’s population busy on any given day.

But like any rural settlement of Pakistan, the village has faced an acute shortage of power for a long time. From irrigation to cultivation, and harvesting and flour milling, the entire lifecycle of the small agri-based economy of Basti Bullah Baloch has been adversely impacted by power shortage and long, unannounced power cuts.

And livelihood hasn’t been the only thing that poor access to energy has impacted; the everyday life of these villagers was also taking a hit, making living even tougher for these people. Long hours of load-shedding was leaving people without any power to light their homes, or keep them safe from weather extremities.

An intervention for sustainable and affordable access to energy was indispensable. And Shell Pakistan, with the Access to Energy project, did just that.

A much-needed intervention for sustainable electricity arrives

Shell Pakistan Limited, in collaboration with the National Rural Support Program (NRSP), identified and moved to resolve the challenges the dwellers of Basti Bullah Baloch had been facing in terms of power shortage.

In light of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), Shell is working tirelessly to provide cleaner and more reliable energy to those who need it the most. With an aim to deliver reliable electricity to 100 million customers globally by 2030, Shell is improving the reliability of supply for its customers in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

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Shell’s approach to providing access to energy addresses the two main gaps that dominate the emerging power markets: improving the existing power supply to on-grid communities, and providing the first power supply to off-grid communities.

In the case of Basti Bullah Baloch, the company identified two constraints on local economic development that could be mitigated through improved access to energy: increasing access to water for irrigation through solar tube wells, and reduced wheat processing costs increasing local milling capacity through solar flour mills.

Source: Dawn
Source: Dawn

To that end, Shell Pakistan introduced three of its LiveWire program entrepreneurs who have developed energy solutions including solar-powered tube well, flour mill, environment-friendly cooking stoves, and solar products.

How the community-based intervention is helping the locals

Shell Pakistan’s ‘Access to Energy’ intervention in Basti Bullah Baloch has already started to impact agriculture and everyday life greatly.

About 2,250 people from 450 households now have access to a solar-powered flour milling facility. The three-day-long wait time coupled with an arduous journey to the flour mill is now replaced with the ease of flour crushing and a consistent food supply for the local citizens.

Moreover, over 65 farmers now enjoy access to the two community solar-powered tube wells for cultivating approximately 160 acres of agricultural land. Plus, 24.5 hours (41.6% time) has also been saved during a single crop production cycle. Previously, farmers were watering for 42 hours in a crop season. With solar tube wells, the job now takes only 17.5 hours.

Farmers are also saving big on fuel costs thanks to Shell’s intervention for sustainable power. Previously, farmers were spending PKR. 1,100 (7 USD) on fuel per acre (43,560 sq. ft). After using the solar tube well, they are spending only PKR. 500.00 (3.1 USD) on the same piece of land.

Sustainable electricity is also uplifting lifestyles in Basti Bullah Baloch

Everyday life in Basti Bullah Baloch has also improved by folds thanks to the Shell-NRSP intervention for sustainable electricity.

At least 40 households in the village are now using clean cooking stoves, reporting a 30% reduction in illness cases caused by in-house traditional cooking pits due to bad ventilation and the quantity of firewood required to prepare their meal.

Plus, at least six households are now using solar systems and solar lanterns for their household needs.

The Shell-NRSP intervention is also promoting a community system in the village, creating community organizations to discuss and resolve social issues faced by the villagers.

Shell aims to continue its focus to beat the obstacles to inclusive economic growth in Pakistan by providing access to energy in the foreseeable future. As we move into the future, more abundant and cleaner energy will be required to boost economic development, and hence such projects as Shell’s Access to Energy will be of huge help.

By investing in low-carbon energy solutions and advanced technologies that increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions, Shell intends to make energy accessible to all.

In the future, the company aims to develop large-scale power projects in key markets by leveraging its global partnerships to deliver sustainable energy to the remotest areas of the world.

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