Under UNDP’s Solar for Health Project
A Solar for Health Project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has targeted about 12 health centers in seven counties to benefit from solar energy.
According to a release, the solar power facilities are to be installed in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Bong, Gbarpolu, Montserrado, Lofa, and Bomi Counties. These counties, from all indications, lack access to grid electricity utilities, unlike Nimba and other counties in the southeast that are beneficiaries of the West African Power Pool.
Some of the facilities to benefit include: Sinje Clinic, Cape Mount County; Palala Health Center, Bong County; Konia Health Center, Telewoyan Hospital, Vahun Health Centre, and Kolahun health center all in Lofa County; as well as St. Timothy Hospital in Robertsport and the Buchanan Health Facility, among others.
Just last week, the Daily Observer published a story that the CB Dunbar Hospital in Gbarnga, Bong County, which caters exclusively to maternal health, had been without electricity for a few months as a result of lack of fuel for the generator that supplies electricity there. At the hospitals earmarked for the solar power project, there had also been reports about power issues, which caused some to fall short of its operations.
At a technical handover of solar power at the Duport Road Health Center in Monrovia on February 5, 2019, UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative for Operations, Mulugeta Abebe, emphasized that the intervention aligns with UNDP’s role in identifying and testing innovative financing instruments and integrated solutions that achieve development targets and results.
Mr. Abebe said the initiative will increase access to health services by vulnerable populations, reduce carbon emissions as Liberia struggles with climate change issues and Improve the overall power supply of health facilities.
“UNDP is exploring innovative and sustainable options for increasing access to health services,” said Abebe.
The statement also said that the Liberian Government under its National Development Framework — the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) — highlights the energy sector as a part of the infrastructure transformation strategies in its new plan.
Therefore, according to the statement, UNDP believes that the Health sector could be a pioneer for promoting the creation of a local market for renewable energy. It noted that the initiative provides another opportunity for UNDP to support the country in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by helping to respond to complex development challenges that the country faces.
In remarks, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Lorraine Cooper, who spoke on behalf of the Montserrado County Health Team, conveyed the government’s appreciation to UNDP for the gesture.
Dr. Cooper stressed that such intervention has come at a time that Liberia, like other countries around the world, is facing numerous challenges ranging from environmental degradation, fuel shortages on the global market, hike in prices and high maternal mortality rate.
“The quality of services at health centres is key to alleviating maternal deaths and there is no question that adequate lighting facilities play an important role,” Dr. Cooper noted. She urged authorities to develop sustainable strategies that would help make durable the lifespan of the intervention.
The technical and operational installation is being led by a Liberian owned Company, Eco-Power.