When the first snow fell in late November in Tajikistan, it caught many by surprise, including the country’s power providers.
The last two years have accustomed Tajiks to unusually short winters, seemingly lulling authorities into a state of unpreparedness. The November cold snap stretched a decrepit electricity system to its thinnest point in several years.
Temperatures dropped at one stage in November to several degrees below freezing — an abnormal state of affairs in a nation where people have, on rare occasions, greeted the New Year in light spring clothing. A similarly sharp cold front moved in on December 10.
Many would turn to electricity for heating if they could, but service has been particularly sporadic this year. In line with recent custom, energy-rationing season began in October and was implemented nationwide with the exception of the capital, Dushanbe, and part of the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which is supplied by the Agha Khan Foundation-run Pamir Energy power provider. In rural areas, households get about five hours of electricity daily, some in the morning and some in the evening.
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