No Electricity In Azerbaijan’s Green Hills

The scenery is breathtaking: pristine streams zigzagging through green, rolling hills and the autumn sun shining through the trees. But once the sun sets, blankness covers Sakasham, plunging its residents into darkness.

This hamlet in the southernmost corner of Azerbaijan has been without electricity since the 1990s. Trees were cut down and, in the process, fell on cables which no one bothered to repair. Since then, even though energy-rich Azerbaijan says it has enough electricity to export, promises to restore the electricity in tiny Sakasham have failed to materialize.

“Will it work again?” wonders 80-year-old Jahan Aliyeva as she turns the knob of a television which has been silent since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The outside world peeps in via a radio that has to be recharged in nearby settlements. In Aliyeva’s house, a refrigerator is waiting to keep food fresh again; as in every house, the smell of food lingers.