This project demonstrates to local communities how solar energy can be used for water heating. “Urkyz IEOW” involves installing a solar complex at an orphanage in the village of Issyk in Kazakhstan. This project demonstrates a climate-friendly way of saving money and making life easier, especially for women. It has inspired dozens of families in the region to follow suit.

Fast facts:

  • 60 infants and toddlers, and 20 adults directly benefited

  • In 11 months, the orphanage saved $3,600 and prevented 27 tons of carbon dioxide emissions

  • 2,000 people participated in trainings, seminars, and presentations

  • 29 families installed similar solar hot water heating systems

The problem

The Childrens’ Home of Enbekshikazakh is an orphanage located in the Issyk settlement in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan. Here, the staff cares for orphans, ranging in age from newborns to three years old. Due to the lack of a central hot water supply, workers were forced to use electric boilers, electric pots, and gas kettles to heat water for bathing the infants and toddlers. Furthermore this water is used for cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, and associated housework work.

This inefficient, inconvenient, time-consuming, and expensive way of getting hot water, caused a difficult situation at the orphanage. Due to a constant need for hot water, electricity bills ate up a large portion of the budget.

The solution

Orphanage staff, with support including from the GEF Small Grants Programme, installed four solar water heating systems at the orphanage complex. The heaters are electronically controlled, and can use electricity for heating when there is no sun. The orphanage now acts as a demonstration site where locals can visit, and the orphanage staff shows them how the system works.

Trainings and seminars on solar water heating were included in the project, as well as public presentations. In response to the demonstration, 29 families are also installing solar water heaters, with ever more considering the option.

Helping the planet

Solar water heaters have reduced use of electricity and gas. Since energy in Kazakhstan is primarily produced through the burning of fossil fuels, using less electricity prevents greenhouse gas emissions. Using less gas conserves the natural resource and prevents potential environmental impacts from the exploitation of gas resources.

Helping people

The (mostly female) orphanage staff has gained an efficient, convenient, reliable and cheap source of hot water, improving their working conditions and making life easier for them. The children also benefit from improved hygiene, and illness rates have dropped.

Spillover effect

The demonstration was designed to be replicated – successfully, as the household installations show. Continued publicity, including from events like a regional conference, will assure that the project continues to grow. Local governmental authorities and hospitals are considering going solar in their water heating, while work with an Asian women’s network helps the experience spread on an international level.


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