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Central Asia: Struggling to Keep the Lights On

Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric power stations normally provide about 93 percent of the nation’s electricity needs. (Photo: David Trilling)

A combination of severe cold and antiquated infrastructure this winter is leaving millions of people in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the dark. Power outages are posing an especially difficult test for Kyrgyzstan’s nascent parliamentary democracy.

In Tajikistan, where rolling blackouts have long been a regular feature of life, residents in the capital Dushanbe report that electricity supplies are actually better so far this winter than during the same period in previous years. Rural areas of the country, however, are still lacking power, with many towns having only about six hours of electricity per day. Part of the reason for the improved situation this year is that officials appear to have curtailed electricity exports to Afghanistan.

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Nate Schenkkan is a Bishkek-based journalist.

Central Asia: Struggling to Keep the Lights On

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