As in many other high mountainous regions, local people in the Eastern Pamirs (Tajikistan) use biomass fuels, mainly teresken shrubs, to heat their houses during the winter months. This overuse of already scarce natural resources results in serious land degradation. Since 2006, thermal insulation measures have been disseminated and financed through microloans. This case study analyzes the impacts of thermal insulation in Murgab, the main town in the Eastern Pamirs, where thermal insulation measures have been implemented in 159 households since 2008. Although clients are more interested in increased comfort than in fuel savings, according to quantitative data collected in 2010 and 2011, thermal insulation measures led to a 20 to 30% savings in heating energy on average. However, it is mainly better-off households that are aware of energy efficiency issues and willing to invest in thermal insulation. In contrast, poorer households are the main teresken users, but they rarely have their houses insulated due to a lack of awareness and a low ability to repay loans. Therefore, the approach to introducing thermal insulation has only had a small effect on teresken consumption until now.
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