Home > Countries > Snapshots > Out of the comfort zone: Shortage of electricity – a window on Pakistan

Carolexpat opens her window on Pakistan and tells us about power cuts in her host country.

 

It’s not always easy for expat to cope with some of the situations they are faced with in their host countries. Those who manage, automatically develop a strong empathy towards the local population and their own vision of life can change dramatically.

 

I am talking about how Pakistani people cope with the constant power cuts all over the country, at all levels of every day life.

Try to imagine living in Europe with daily cuts on electricity. How would it be possible? For the past 8 years, Pakistan has been dealing with electricity load shedding. I am not going to discuss the causes and reasons of the problem, as I might go into political issues and this is not the aim of the article. I will focus on how people, in particular mothers and children, are managing their every day life with this problem.

There is no electricity in most parts of the country for 10/12 hours per day. Some people may not be affected directly, for example the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, the highest areas in the main cities and some government offices, but for most of the population the situation is very bad.

Here are some practical examples: imagine you are watching TV, listening to music, typing on your PC, ironing, using your washing machine, studying, the fans are on. Suddenly everything stops, anytime of day or night. Most people have bought generators made with trucks or cars batteries of UPS (uninterruptible power supply) generators. They function with a gas connection or with engine oil but their noise makes it impossible to sleep and someone has to press the on and off button once the electricity comes back.

In some parts of the country there are gas power cuts as well and the of oil weighs heavily on the monthly budget. The UPS are easier and work automatically but their batteries last three or four hours only. The problem is particularly bad during summer (with temperatures of 40-45 degrees) when the fans stop and mosquitoes attack within seconds.

Air conditioning only works with big-size generators and the same goes for fridges and freezers. All frozen items defrost and modems, lights and electric appliances all suffer from these ups and downs in the electricity supply.

Until a few years ago children were studying by candle light during these cuts, nowadays all kinds of solar lights bulbs or lamps are sold at the market. Solar panels are available but their cost is still high.

Poor people in Pakistan do not have generators or solar panels, nor special bulbs, they only have candels. Their summer nights are spent fanning their children to give them a bit of air an protect them from mosquitos. Wet pieces of cloths are placed on their bodies to keep the temperature down. Situations that are imaginable in Europe. How not to feel empathy?

Carole Sahebzadah (Carolexpat)
Islamabad, Pakistan
November 2017

 

This article is part of a section we call “Snapshots”. We write short articles on a specific aspect of our host country. Like opening a window of our home and telling you what we see. We would be happy to publish what YOU see. Get in touch with us!