Solar energy system installation project changing lives

Solar energy system installation project has barely completed a year electrifying health centres, is already changing lives of community around. It’s not only proving to be a better alternative for power, but has altogether transformed the prevailing healthcare scenario at centre-level.

This joint venture between Arba Minch University, Sahay Solar Association Africa, University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland and Gamo Gofa Zone Administrative office signed on 14th April, 2015, till date, has got seven health centres electrified so far.

The project team chairman from AMU, Mr Zelalem Girma, informed that so far six systems have been installed in 2016, apart from one as a part of pilot project in 2014. This year, more such systems will be in place as equipments are expected to arrive from Germany in November, 2016 and January, 2017.

More importantly, it’s learnt, solar system is poignantly changing demand-and-supply equation at health centres and surrounding community. The daily requirement of 5 kilo Watts is now being fulfilled as each system provides them with 5-to-6 kilo Watts of power and many centres are even said to have been generating revenue by selling extra power to other clients.

Gamo Gofa Zonal Health Department head, Mr Degaga Demeke, expressing his satisfaction, said, ‘‘This project has greater impact on healthcare service.’’ He informed his office has allotted ETB 3 Million last year and equal amount for this year will be earmarked. Of 15 selected health centres, he said, six have already been electrified while nine will be installed this year.

The nine identified health centres to be electrified this year are, Dera Dime Health Centre at Deramalo woreda, Kolezale Health Centre - Bonke, Mengeda and Bola Health Centres -  Kucha, Manuka Health Centre - Boreda, Biozema Health Centre - Zalla, Ubayela Health Centre - Uba Debresehay, Ditasuluse Health Centre - Dita and Wobora Health Centre at Chencha woreda, Mr Degaga added.

As per the agreement, Gamo Gofa Zone Administrative Office is sharing 30% of total project cost; AMU contributes 10% while 60% comes from Sahay Solar Association Africa. The installation is being executed by a three-member team of instructors from Electrical Engineering Department, AMU, includes Mr Zelalem Girma, Mr Engidaw Abel, technical manager and Mr Zeleke Ginto, technical assistant.

Feeling contented, Mr Engidaw Abel, said, ‘‘We employ 25% of our time in this project and I feel satisfied as I learn new things every time when I go to different health stations. Previously, it would take a week to install a system, now it can be done in 3 days and people are happy.’’

Zeyse Health Centre Manager, Mr Robel Abebe, said, ‘‘This system has transformed our service delivery. In its absence, child delivery used to be a nightmare, as one had to hold the torch while other would perform the duty. We had refrigerator, but couldn’t preserve syringe and drugs; but now most of the pathological services like blood, urine and other tests are being done here.’’

Likewise, Lymatsala Health Centre officer, Mr Hailemariam Mesfin, has also got positive story to share, he adds, with solar system in place, centre is dispensing better maternal-child services. Earlier, pathology unit that was inactive now got fully functional; now we can preserve essential syringes and important drugs. With service delivery getting better, people from across the region have started coming in large numbers to seek treatment.

The seven health centres electrified are, Zeyse Dambile and Zigiti Bakole Health Centres -  Arba Minch Zuria woreda, Bedro Health Centre - Geze Gofa woreda, Gytsa and Mishiria Health Centres -  Melokoza woreda, Layma Tsala Health Centre - Demba Gofa and Gugeboyre Health Centre at Daramalo woreda.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)