Solar electrification of rural clinics (IsF, Government of Rioja, Spain)

A first project in cooperation with IsF Rioja (Engineers without Borders, a Spanish NGO), to provide solar lighting in maternity clinics, based on experience gained in the frame of the Danida funded project above. A follow up project is currently under discussion. Local technicians are trained for operation and maintenance tasks.

The project is being implemented in the villages of Kola, Konza & Sodioula, in the commune of Koumantou, Sikasso region, 200 km south of Bamako. The total population of the three villages is about 4300. The project consists of installation of solar panels in three villages for lighting in clinics, which serve as maternities (for births of children & post-natal care), and in some cases pharmacies. Electrification of the clinics means improved healthcare provision, which will have an added outreach, as these facilities also serve people in the surrounding villages. Local people work with Mali-Folkecenter installing the equipment, and are trained to maintain it. A comprehensive training programme will give the villagers the skills they need for management and repairs.

Mali-Folkecenter works closely with existing organisational structures with responsibility in the villages. The mayor of Koumantou was contacted to support the project and provide personnel to assist with contact work in the villages. ‘Ressortissants’ (people from the villages who now work in Bamako but who stay in contact with the villages and are highly respected by the local populations) from each village were contacted through ADAKOM (the Association for the Development of Koumantou, an organisation of ressortissants based in Bamako) which provided advice and support for the project. This facilitated communication between Mali-Folkecenter and the villagers. These structures have a long tradition of supporting development activities in the villages.

Follow-up trips have been made to the villages, where the log books were examined. Log books are used to record births using the system as well as maintenance tasks performed by the maintenance committee, and so is a vital tool for system management and analysis of performance.

The logs showed that so far on average one child is born per week in each village using the solar lighting system. If the solar panel is assumed to have a lifetime of 25 years (according to guarantee) then this means:

52 children per year x 25 year lifetime = 1300 children born using solar system in 1 village

If the other two villages have similar birth rate, then 3900 children will be born in the three villages over the system lifetime.

This is a rough calculation, but it gives an idea of the positive long term effect of the project.

New projects are soon to be underway. The first is a project to electrify six maternity clinics in the communes of Zantiebougou and Kebila, in the Sikasso region. The second is to install 25 solar micropumps, each using just 40W on power to produce a small amount of water suitable for domestic use. It is expected that the water will be used for gardening or other income generating activities, or for drinking.