Project using renewable energy sources improved lives of 44 returnee households in BiH

Solar panels secured a steady supply of electricity for 44 households in rural BiH

Returnee family Rodic struggles while being without the electricity for 12 years. UNDP Bosnia-Herzegovina found the way to help them live a better life.

After three years of waiting, the couple Milkica and Milan Šupka from the village of Veliko Očijevo replaced the candle and the petroleum lamp with the bulb a month ago. The first time the village got electricity in 1980. War conflicts had torn the electrical network that was never restored again because it was estimated that its restoration would require large funds that the competent companies cannot afford.  

Milkica and Milan Šipka are one of the remaining 44 rural households from the municipalities of Bihać, Bosanski Petrovac and Drvar who solved their electricity problems thanks to the installation of solar systems for the production of electricity and hot water with the assistance of UNDP.

Not only did they turn the candles and petroleum lamps off, but they also do not have to make fire during summer, their refrigerator works, they have water, even hot water, they can watch TV… Their life, as they say, has come back to normal. They feel reborn. For the second time in their life they have lived to see the light bulb turned on.

“It is unthinkable to be without electricity today. It is the hardest when it comes to food. You cannot use a fridge or water, so this was the main problem. The whole village went several times to ask for the issue of electricity to be solved, but it did not work out", says Milan Šipka.

Solar systems for the production of electricity and hot water of 1.5 kilowatts (panels) with a generator of 2.8 kilowatts provide daily production of four to five kilowatts of electricity in summer while in winter it will range between two and two and a half kilowatts.  

His wife Milkica does not make coffee on the gas stove or firewood stove anymore. The coffee pot is now on the electric stove. “There is a big difference. While we were without electricity there was nothing to do: the night falls in winter and we go to bed at five o'clock. Now it's much easier and better. There was no stove for cooking, we had to make fire during summer, no washing machine, and everything had to be done manually. Everything is much different now. Electricity has changed our lives. We are happy. It's also easier for cattle. Now we deal with milk differently too", Milkica Šipka talks about her recent and present life.

So far electrification has been carried out by using renewable energy sources, that is by installing solar systems for the production of electricity and hot water for 44 rural households in the region that encompasses three municipalities, Bihać, Bosanski Petrovac and Drvar.

Siniša Rodić, Project Manager of the UNDP Green Economic Development Project, said “The project was initiated by UNDP back in 2011 when we realized the need of population who had lived there for some 12 years without electricity. We tried with the relevant authorities to find a solution, but setting up the power grid was very expensive. Estimates for some 20 households in this village, Veliko Očijevo, amounted to about KM 700,000 KM, which is approximately KM 35,000 per household. We then tried to identify some other solution that could be found for these families.”

UNDP published a call to find the best technical and cost-effective solution, with the condition that the solution is from renewable energy sources. This is a winning solution. The price is more than three times cheaper than the power grid. This way of electrification brings multiple benefits.

“The promotion of renewable energy sources brings other benefits too, such as better state of the environment, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less general pollution and certainly increases citizens' awareness of the benefits of using renewable energy sources and reducing the use of fossil fuels", says Rodić.

The local non-governmental organisation Refugee Return Service (RRS) has been a UNDP partner since the beginning of the project, as well as the international organisation CBS (Church World Service).

UNDP’s Green Economic Development (GED) is working on raising awareness among primary and high school children about energy efficiency. It is very important to initiate these issues already at this age, to influence awareness and to spread knowledge. In the same time, the Project is working with the highest levels of government of BiH.

UNDP is implementing a five year Green Economic Development Project financed by the Government of Sweden, the Environmental Fund of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund of Republika Srpska. The Project partners are Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, entity’s ministries for spatial planning, cantonal ministries and other institutions.  The GED Project aims to create favorable conditions for investments into energy efficiency measures while contributing to green market development and economic progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Source: Balkan - Anadolu Agency, June 2017

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