DRE project developer & funding partner: Vaya Energy
Technology provider & technical partner: Schneider Electric
Beneficiaries: Dakwa Primary Health Centre (PHC) and local communities
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Dakwa is situated in the outskirts of Nigeria’s federal capital territory. The community suffered from one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, due to recent polio cases and the fact that many women still gave birth in their homes. The PHC at was established by the government with the goal of boosting the community’s compliance to the national inmunisation programme (especially after the outbreak of polio in 2013), and to increase maternal health. However, the health care facility had never truly functioned to its full capacity. Since it was set up in 2014, the centre had never had access to grid power. The centre provides first aid and primary health hcare to the Dakwa community, serving 600 people. Without electricity, PHC workers depended on kerosene lamps for lighting at night and could not store their medicines and vaccines in a cool place, like a refrigerator, as recommended by the health authorities. To solve this, Vaya Energy and Schneider Electric powered a community’s health care centre in Dakwa, Abuja. Providing electricity to the PHC has helped go a long way in improving the socio-economic standards of the community. The aims of the project were to provide 24/7 power to the Dakwa PHC and to educate the Dakwa community and health workers on solar technology. To ensure the sustainability of the project, a few staff of the PHC were taught on simple maintenance of the system, which includes operating the system and cleaning off the solar panels of dirt. It is a small system and little maintenance is required.
The DRE solution is a 3 kWp, DC-Coupled system with a 2.5 kW load size. It comprises the following components:
Vaya Energy, as part of its corporate social responsibility, provided the PHC with a refrigerator and a fan, and replaced the night lamps with energy saving compact fluorescent lamps.
The total cost of the project was EUR 10,000, which was fully funded by Vaya Energy as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget allocation. Dakwa PHC is the first microgrid system designed and deployed by Vaya Energy. Schneider Electric was contacted to provide the products and technology for the system as well as training of Vaya Energy engineers and on-site commissioning support. The project was a pilot to showcase the benefits of off-grid solar PV systems on rural health clinics. After commissioning, the ownership and operation of the microgrid system was handed over to the Dakwa community, so the PHC does not pay for the electricity generated and consumed.
Since powering the PHC, there has been a 50 to 60 % reduction in maternal and child mortality, as well as an 80% increase in night-time deliveries and procurement of more medical ice packs for vaccine cooling. Prior to the installation of the DRE solution, at least 35 homes rejected the polio vaccination for their kids. Today, the health care centre has its own dedicated vaccine refrigerator and the community is much more receptive to vaccinations. The health workers go on daily vaccination drives and no new cases of polio have been reported. Also, more women are ready to go to the health care centre to give birth.
The PHC is planning to install new equipment that will need to be powered, thus there will be a need to scale up the system. Aside from some regulatory approval delays to build the microgrid system, there were no other challenges in this project. However, it is important to note that the PHCs serving marginalised communities through non-profit business model cannot afford the upfront cost of installing a solar PV system. While renewable energy companies like Vaya Energy can afford to power one or two PHCs under their CSR budget, a coordinated effort from private companies, governments and development organisations can help more rural PHCs like Dakwa’s overcome these challenges and tap into the benefits of solar technology. Future plans with the local government, directly responsible for the development of the community, involve supporting the project by expanding the microgrid to a 12 kWp system to electrify more homes and businesses in the community.