How Sabzali illuminated his mountain village


This is a story about changing people’s lives. This is Sabzali Javlonov’s story.

Sabzali Javlonov was born in the remote mountain village of Nisur in Tajikistan. Located at 2 500 metres above sea level in the upper reaches of the Bartang Valley, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, the village has no access to centralized power supplies. At the age of 25, Sabzali successfully illuminated his entire village.

How did Sabzali do it?

Sabzali’s interest in energy began in 2009, when he participated in the international School Project for Application of Resources and Energy (SPARE) contest. During that time period, Little Earth, a member of the Mountain Partnership, together with the local non-governmental organization "Oyandasoz" was visiting schools to deliver lessons and organize exhibitions, contests and other events highlighting issues of climate change and promoting renewable energy. Sabzali won second place in the 2009 international SPARE contest by creating an operating model of a pontoon mini-hydro power plant (HPP) to use in his village.

Participating in this energy-saving project inspired young Sabzali to continue his education and become an engineer. After receiving his university degree from Khorog State University, Sabzali returned home to bring power to his village.

He did this by constructing a 2 kilowatt mini-HPP from old materials. The generator, for example, was salvaged from a broken-down windmill, and the flywheel was borrowed from a rusty car. In the beginning, his contrivance could provide light to seven households, but Sabzali did not think that was enough.

Later on, using locally improvised materials Sabzali constructed another mini-HPP and procured another 2 kilowatt generator, thus providing almost all households in Nisur access to a limited power supply that allowed them to run a couple energy-efficient lamps and charge a mobile phone.

"I am grateful to Little Earth. Its activities in our valley have helped me to find my true vocation. I hope to become a good engineer, find a decent job and work for the benefit of my people," said Sabzali.

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Photo: Little Earth/Timur Idrisov

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