Enduring Tajikistan's coldest winter

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Enduring Tajikistan's coldest winter
Is this what Al Gore wants for you?

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14 Feb 08 - After suffering its worst winter in 50 years, Tajikistan has finally appealed to the United Nations for aid. But a total loss of electricity is still a possibility, and could have terrible consequences.

Left without heat, electricity or running water, hundreds of thousands of people who are trying to survive the coldest winter Tajikistan has seen for decades.

Energy has always been scarce here, but it only took a few weeks of cold weather to throw this country decades back in time.

In January, as temperatures dropped to a record low of -20C, people started consuming more power to keep warm and the country's entire energy system began to shut down.

In the mountains, rivers froze, leaving hydropower stations without supplies to run their turbines. In the cities and villages, frozen pipes left millions of people without drinking water.

"I lived in Sierra Leone during the war there but I think this is worse," one aid worker in the capital, Dushanbe, told me.

There is something extremely oppressive, almost humiliating, about being constantly cold. The merciless chill seeps through clothes, bites into skin and never lets go.

The UN agencies say that, with more money spent on fuel or wood, people have nothing left to eat and that food shortages are becoming severe.

At a freezing-cold maternity ward outside Dushanbe, a nurse told me she was terrified of the disaster that a total blackout could bring. Electricity supplies to her hospital are already scarce and there is no heating.

Floating around Dushanbe are horrifying accounts of babies freezing to death in maternity wards, or people on life support, dying during electricity cuts.

               Ten people living in one room. No electricity, no heat, 
               no running water, and no food. Do you really want to 
               cut your energy consumption by 80 percent?

See entire article by Natalia Antelava
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7243704.stm
Thanks to John Brown in Ardrossan, Scotland, for this link

 



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