Since 2003, SELF has taken up the challenge of electrifying health care facilities throughout Rwanda along with a coalition comprised of Partners in Health (PIH), Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and the Elisabeth Glaser AIDS Initiative.
With one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world, approximately 3% of the adult population is infected with the virus, as a result an estimated 210,000 children have been orphaned. The problem of supplying adequate diagnostic and treatment services to fight the disease is compounded by the nation’s limited clinical and laboratory infrastructure, combined with the chronic shortage of medical professionals.
SELF’s partnership with PIH in Rwanda has proven to be long lasting and successful. By working together, SELF was able to replace PIH’s diesel generators with solar-diesel hybrid systems at healthcare facilities in Mulindi, Rusumo, Rukira, Nyarabuye, and Kirehe. The hybrid systems that were implemented generated 90% or more of its power from the sun, with diesel generators used to supplement the lack of power generated during periods of rain or prolonged heavy usage. These systems were used to power vaccine refrigerators, computer record keeping and communication systems, microscopes, blood analysis machines, centrifuges, portable X-ray machines, and sterilization devices.
During this time, SELF also partnered with The Ihangane Project (TIP) to support community-initiated projects that addressed improvements to HIV prevention, education, diagnosis, and treatment —the Gakenke District of Rwanda is only a small fraction of the country, but was one of the regions most heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. In 2010, SELF partnered with TIP to electrify 2 health clinics and 3 remote health posts. In July 2010, a then decade old, inoperable 500 Wp solar system at the Nyange Health Center was replaced with a new 1.6 kW solar array. The new system now provides power to computer and communications systems and diagnostic equipment.
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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.
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