How World Bank’s solarization initiative is attaining results in Boma
An innovative efficacy bringing sustainable energy solutions to communities in need
A UNICEF-supported health facility in remote Boma Country of South Sudan registered a decrease in deaths between January and March this year. This achievement is attributed to the improved availability of medical supplies, qualified medical personnel, solarization of the health facility and cooperation among all stakeholders running the Boma Hospital.
Jebel Boma County is an area that has seen little development since the country gained independence over a decade ago. The area is characterized by poor road networks, inadequate health infrastructure, lack of access to clean water and electricity, and insecurity – numerous factors depriving inhabitants of their basic rights.
However, through funding from the World Bank, In 2021, UNICEF was responsible for supporting the only hospital in the region serving a population of almost 47,000 for people to access essential healthcare services.
Implementing partner, ForAfrika’s latest data shows the hospital has recorded no deaths in the first quarter of 2023 – an accomplishment that can be partly attributed to the recent solar power installation at the hospital.
Installed in late 2022, Boma Hospital Solar System is lighting up the entire hospital and keeping the cold chain units operational to store crucial vaccines and medicine. It has had a big impact, according to Betty Anying, ForAfrika Nutrition Officer, who also doubles as team lead for Boma Hospital.
Betty acknowledges that the hospital’s solarization innovative initiative has reduced the facility’s reliance on costly and polluting generators.
“Just imagine the hospital without a solar power system currently; how would the facility operate? Before the installation, the whole hospital was always in the dark because we depended on power from other sources.
“However, since its installation, all the wards have lighting now, deliveries of babies at night are attended to easily, and the issue of theft has reduced. Since they brought the solar power, we haven’t registered any theft issues within the facility,” said Betty.
Betty added that the initiative also contributes to fighting climate change, “Unfortunately or fortunately, when it rains, and you see how the hospital is flooded, it’s always sad. But with this World Bank-funded initiative, I believe it will help, in a small way, in combating shocks triggered by climate change”.
The nutrition professional stated that the move should serve as a model for other agencies and communities to follow.
Meanwhile, Clement Konyi - Boma Hospital Electrician, says it’s amazing to see how alternative energy solutions like solar power can make a tangible difference in people's lives.
“This solar has been so helpful to us since its connection because it provides general light to the hospital compound, reducing the number of snake bites within the hospital that have always been disturbing the patients and workers.
“Secondly, since the solar came in place, we haven’t lost any child because all our systems for the children's ward have always been on and not interrupted,” said Clement.
He added, “As an electrician, it is incredibly rewarding to have played a part in implementing such a positive change”.
For his part, Allan Ngoray – Boma Hospital Expanded Programme for Immunization Supervisor revealed that the consistent power supply provided by the solar system has helped ensure the vaccines are kept at the required temperature, reducing the risk of spoilage and increasing their effectiveness when administered to patients.
“The impacts of this installed solar system are so many. I must admit that the system has helped us maintain the required temperature and proper storage of the vaccines. We use cool boxes to store the rest in case of too many supplies.
“Now, we stay without worries that the vaccines would get spoiled because of heat and other factors, simply because the solar power for this section is on 24/7. It’s such a great privilege to us, the vaccinators and the vaccines’ beneficiaries,” said Allan.
However, Betty suggested the need to engage communities in opening up roads through food-for-work initiatives, citing that the approach can effectively improve accessibility to the hospital to avoid distance challenges.
She further said engaging communities in such a way could also help build stronger relationships and trust between the healthcare workers and communities.
The project has seen solar power installed at seven health facilities in the three States of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile. The development aims to support the country's sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient power supply for longer, quality healthcare service provision at health facilities.
Implemented under UNICEF’s Health Section, the program also intends to deliver quality healthcare for all, with vaccines required to maintain a cold chain temperature of +2°C to +8°C.
Boma Hospital is run by South Sudan ForAfrika through the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness (CERHSP) – a UNICEF South Sudan project implemented in partnership with the World Bank Africa, aimed at strengthening the response to COVID-19 while consolidating health service delivery for the refugee and host communities.