re:heat were approached in Autumn 2018 by the international aid agency the Danish Refugee Council to provide a range of support to their Abkhazia team on the sustainable use of biomass. Having survived the ravages of two ethno-political wars since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 2008, yet over 270,000 people remain internally displaced.
Abkhazia faces substantial challenges, and is effectively isolated from most of the world as a result of its international status – described as both ‘Russian Occupied Territory’ and an ‘Autonomous Republic’. Mean household incomes are very low at around 400 Euros per annum, the majority of economic activity is land based, with citrus fruit and hazelnut production dominating.
We were commissioned to support the DRC team in Abkhazia by looking in depth at the opportunities for supporting sustainable livelihoods with a range of biomass-related projects in rural areas. A member of our team spent two weeks in Abkhazia, investigating the opportunities for using timber processing and agricultural residues for biomass energy, both as an export opportunity and for use in rural schools. This involved site visits, resource assessments, equipment inspection, design work and the provision of training to DRC and Abkhazian Rural Development Association staff.
The commission builds on work we undertook for the UN Development Programme in Georgia in 2016 and 2017, and was funded by a combination of EU, Norwegian and UNDP resources.