Maha Qasim, MEM

2014 TRI Fellow in Pakistan

Ittehad model village assessment

In 2010, massive floods triggered by heavy monsoon rain wiped out several hundred thousand homes in Pakistan. Southern Punjab was one of the worst affected areas. At that time, I was working for an organization called Engro Corporation and they decided to build a Model Village to rehabilitate some of the people who had been made homeless by the floods as a corporate social responsibility initiative in collaboration with the Punjab Disaster Management Authority. The village was provided with off-grid solar electricity as well as other facilities including a waste water recycling system and a school.

This summer I conducted a follow-up household energy survey in collaboration with an organization called the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, which monitors the progress of these model villages to determine household energy use patterns in households with access to solar electricity. I coordinated my research with Engro and with a local NGO called the Farmers Development Organization. I also hired three local students to translate the surveys into Seraiki (the regional language) and traveled to Muzaffargarh in Southern Puniab to interview people in two neighboring model villages including the Ittehad Model Village which was built by Engro and which had access to solar electricity and the neighboring Al-Khair village which does not have access to electricity. I was interested in the different patterns of energy usage and I was surprised to see how innovative the local communities are despite their primitive living conditions.