ÖkoFlussPlan carries out quantitative household survey in Kyrgyzstan
The CLIENT II project ÖkoFlussPlan aims to conserve the riparian forests along the Naryn River, whose survival is threatened due to overgrazing and the collection of firewood. In order to sustain the forest in the long-term, it is first important to understand how the local population currently uses the forest and to provide sustainable alternative energy sources, such as renewable energy technologies. Integrating these new renewable energy sources into local energy use in turn relies on a good understanding of the energy needs of the households in the area.
To this end, the project team conducted a quantitative household survey in close cooperation with the Naryn State University (NSU) in the village Ak-Tal, which was chosen for the case study. Ak-Tal is located in the Naryn region in the immediate vicinity of the Naryn River. During the research visit, 40 of the total of 234 households were interviewed, with the questions focusing on forest use and energy consumption. The questionnaire was 15 pages long, with almost 100 questions.
The part of the questionnaire related to energy consumption included questions on general building information, on the residents’ behaviour patterns, on their housing situation, on their opinions on heating, on the status of the heat and electricity supply, on the use of solid fuels (for example, coal, firewood and cow dung) for heating, as well as questions about the type of hot water supply and cooking facilities in their respective homes.
The part of the questionnaire about the forest sought to determine the extent of legal and illegal firewood use, the number of grazing animals and their grazing time in the alluvial forest, the local residents’ assessment of forest’s current state, potential strategies for the forest’s sustainable use, and the importance of the alluvial forests’ other ecosystem services.
By staying on site for two weeks in the middle of winter, the research team were able to take a closer look at local household conditions. Conversations with the residents during the interviews provided both fundamental insights into their views on energy supply and consumption, and their use and perception of the alluvial forest on the other. The quantitative household survey was a success and the information collected provides an sound basis for understanding energy consumption and the use of the forests by the Kyrgyz villages along the Naryn River.
At the same time, this research stay offered five students at the NSU the opportunity to continue their training in conducting interviews. To support the transfer of knowledge between the THI and NSU, Mr Kedar Mehta, a researcher at the THI, gave a lecture about "Building the heat energy supply and effectiveness of thermal insulations in cold climatic regions". In addition to the lecture, the NSU students also had the chance to strengthen their practical skills in a training course about the software EnergyPlus, which is used for building energy simulations. Further, the THI and NSU signed a research cooperation agreement for the field of renewable energies to strengthen higher education and the research network. Wthin the framework of this agreement, three students at the NSU have already announced their intention to prepare bachelor theses (from March 2020) within the ÖkoFlussPlan project.