April 2011: Powering maternal care and HIV services with solar

While the Solar Electric Light Fund has been deeply involved in efforts to rebuild Haiti, we have not lost sight of our commitment to the millions of people in other underserved communities around the world. Such is the case with our most recent work in Rwanda.

SELF, in partnership with The Ihangane Project (TIP), installed solar electric systems at the Rukura Health Center and three Health Posts in the Gakenke District of the Northern Province of Rwanda. SELF’s project manager, Jerome Uwimana, along with local PV technicians, installed a 1.6 kW system at the health center, and a 270 Wp systemat each health post. These systems provide access to reliable electricity that supports standard healthcare services, including HIV services, day and night.

Part of a two-phase initiative, the first installation was completed in 2010 at the Nyange Health Clinic where a 1.6 kW solar array replaced a 500 watt, decade old solar-electric system that had been operable only during the day. In a community where many expectant mothers believe that delivery begins at night, and will not go to a clinic until nightfall, this is unacceptable. Now, the health center has power 24/7.

TIP provides support to projects generated by people living in poor communities most impacted by HIV. SELF was first approached by TIP’s founder, Dr. Wendy Leonard, toreplace the Nyange system, and with additional support from Dr. Emery Chang at UCLA Care Clinic, the second phase was implemented.

Now that Phase I and Phase II of SELF’s work with TIP have been completed and the solar electric systems are in place, the people in the Gakenke District of Northern Rwanda can look forward to a steady supply of clean, renewable electricity to meet their medical needs for many years to come.

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