Solar for maternity centres in Madagascar

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In 2019, EKOenergy granted 24 000 euros to equip eight maternity units with solar energy in rural parts of Madagascar. The project was prepared and implemented by Santé Sud in cooperation with their local partners. By the end of 2020, solar panels are set up in six out of the eight community maternal units.

Power for self-employed midwives

Sexual and reproductive health is one of the biggest health issues in the country. 66% of birth deliveries are not assisted by qualified health professionals. Rural areas of Madagascar, home to 70% of the Malagasy population, are the most severely impacted. To tackle this problem, Santé Sud, a French sustainable development NGO, joined forces with local communities and authorities. They decided to set-up several self-employed midwives in private maternity units, in eight remote rural communities.

With EKOenergy’s financial support, each maternity unit received photovoltaic equipment which guarantees stable access to electricity and low running costs. Since electricity facilitates everyday life, both in the midwives’ living quarters and in the clinics, the project improves living conditions of the locals greatly. It enables using a refrigerator to preserve vaccines and medication, provides essential lighting for day and night patient care and charges mobile phones and other electronic devices. We asked questions about the installation to Perle, the project leader.

Designed in Madagascar

EKOenergy: Could you describe these photovoltaic panel installations? How many are there? How do they work?

Perle, the project leader: Two Jirogasy kits were installed per maternity unit. Each kit is made up of one Jirogasy box containing a solar panel, a battery, an energy converter as well as some cables (for the light bulbs, the panel, the battery and the corresponding energy converter). Furthermore, four low consumption LED light bulbs of 400 lumens are also included in the kit. A lumen is a measuring unit of the brightness of a light bulb. Most light bulbs are between 100 and 150 lumens. The Jirogasy light bulbs are 400 lumens, therefore 2 to 4 times brighter than ordinary light bulbs.

The energy also allows to power a Jirodesk, a computer designed in Madagascar. It allows the staff to perform all bureaucratic tasks, such as filling forms and storing information.

What are these photovoltaic panels used for?

The photovoltaic panels are used for the maternity units and the midwives’ living quarters. This means that they power the refrigerator for the preservation of vaccines, as well as lighting for patient care, nocturnal birth deliveries and living quarters. Therefore, the Jirodesk included in the Jirogasy offer enables access to electricity, which opens up the possibility of using IT tools, the radio and being able to charge mobile equipment.

What is good about using solar energy?

The midwives are set up in rural areas, therefore there is no electrification. Solar energy is nevertheless available and remains to this day the only affordable means in Madagascar.

During the dry season, there isn’t enough sun but there is daylight. The midwives are trained to save energy and only use it for essential reasons. Furthermore, they have learnt to control and check the voltage indicated for the battery.

Where is the electricity used?

The electricity is used in the clinics and by the midwives in their living quarters, for lighting, communication and charging phones, and other activities that require electricity.

What happens if something breaks or stops working? Who deals with it?

The provider guarantees that the supplies conform to strict technical specifications annexed in the contract and Santé Sud benefits from a 3 year maintenance package. If a problem occurs, the midwives can reach the provider by phone. If the problem can’t be fixed remotely, the provider commits to coming into the field to repair, and if needed provide replacement equipment to the midwife.

We thank Perle for answering our questions. You can find more information about this specific project on our leaflet and learn more about other projects we have financed on EKOenergy’s Climate Fund.

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Published on 17 September 2020