Two-thirds of the contamination from the Chernobyl power plant’s accident on April 26, 1986 fell in Belarus, affecting one-fifth of the population or more than 2 million people. Twenty years after the Chernobyl accident, there was increased realization in Belarus and in the international community present in the region that social and economic development would play an important role in mitigating the effects that had depressed the quality of life in the affected region. The project responded to the recommendations of the International Chernobyl Forum (2005) which stressed socio-economic factors in helping people living in the area to recover and prosper. Approved in 2006, the project was a shift from humanitarian assistance towards longer-term sustainable development of the region.
The project finances measures to improve the living environment of the population in the Chernobyl-affected area by providing better quality, reliability and efficiency of heating and hot water services to the population, with an emphasis on beneficiaries of public institutions, such as schools and hospitals, in order to improve their living environment. The energy efficiency measures address such immediate problems as (i) replacement of inefficient old boilers and heat distribution systems, (ii) installation of new windows, (iii) improving lighting and insulation in social institutions such as schools, hospitals and orphanages; and (iv) restoration of essential heat and hot water services to social institutions that were receiving less than adequate services. Investments in residential gas connections provide clean and improved space heating to households that were burning wood inside homes with negative environmental and health consequences.
- As of February 2011, about 137,000 students, teachers, patients and medical staff have benefitted from improved energy efficient services;
- New lighting, heating, and insulation were installed in 328 schools, hospitals, and orphanages of Gomel, Brest and Mogilev regions;
- Boiler houses and heat supply systems were replaced at 21 sites;
- More than 3,000 individual houses (about 10,000 beneficiaries) previously burning wood inside their homes were connected to reliable gas heating.
- The implemented measures resulted in annual savings of about 355,050 megawatt hours/year.
- The estimated reduction of CO2 emissions attributed to heat and electricity generation is 75,560 tons/year.
The original US$ 50 million IBRD loan was provided in 2006. An additional US$ 30 million loan to scale up activities at additional sites in the three oblasts was approved in October 2010.
The design of the project was shaped by extensive consultations with the affected population, the government of Belarus, and other stakeholders. It benefited from consultations with international agencies working in the affected areas and was discussed with UNDP, EU-TACIS, and bilateral organizations.
The Bank team has worked closely with the Energy Efficiency Department of the State Standardization Committee responsible for coordination and management of implementation on a day-to-day basis, as well as with the Ministry of Energy, Chernobyl Committee, and the Oblast Executive Committees. The Brest, Gomel and Mogilev Oblasts are financing around US$ 7.5 million of energy efficiency improvements in the Chernobyl affected areas simultaneously with the project.
The government of Belarus places high priority on increasing energy efficiency and the project is part of the government’s energy efficiency strategy. Total investments in energy efficiency reached about US$ 3.86 billion since 1996 and energy intensity in Belarus declined by about 60 percent.
Successful project implementation have paved the way for the US$ 125 million Energy Efficiency Loan approved in 2009, which focuses on supply side energy efficiency improvements and has contributed to the dialogue on energy sector reforms in Belarus.
The government has expressed interest in continued cooperation with the Bank in the energy sector.
- Principal of Gomel Art college: "Average indoor air temperature in our classrooms during the heat season increased from 13.8C in 2005 to 20C in 2008"
- Viktor Akushko, first deputy director of the State Standard Committee’s Energy Efficiency Department: “Certainly, the ecological aspect is very important as these are the affected areas. And the reduction in emissions is considerable – it’s twofold. We bring down the emissions and so help rehabilitate the area…”
- A resident of Lesnoe settlement: “I myself never expected it could be done so quickly and free of charge. I wish the gas connection was done earlier when we were young”
- Gaz boiler operator, Chausy boiler house: “The boiler house was commissioned last autumn and before that it was just horrible, by early spring all the snow around us was just black. The boiler house has modern equipment, it’s fully automatic, and we’re able to save a lot of fuel. It’s clean, it doesn’t smell of gas and my working conditions are perfect… “