Sustainable energy source enhances health care provision in rural Nigeria

Access to energy is a critical element for socio-economic development to take place. In Nigeria, most rural communities have limited access to energy and heavily rely on the traditional energy sources. This reality adversely impacts the provision of health care services and the supply of water. Uke Community in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, North Central Nigeria is among the many communities affected by the country energy crisis. With a population of about 10,000 people majority of whom engage in subsistence farming for their livelihood, Uke community also depends on a single government-owned cottage hospital. 

Between 2011 and 2014, Nigeria generated between 3000-4500MW of electricity for its estimated 170 million population. Currently, only an estimated 30% of Nigerians are connected to the national grid. 

Highlights

  • 1.5 Kwa PV Systems, with about 7Kwh battery bank installed in the Cottage Hospital in Uke Community, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State
  • As a result of the installation of PV at the hospital the patients who need surgery are now receiving attention.
  • More than 50 patients are attended to on a daily basis and care is provided during the night as a result of improved lighting.

The low and erratic power supply used to affect the community hospital forcing hospital management to rely on kerosene lantern as source of lighting and petrol generator as their primary source of electricity. As a result, medical personnel were unable to perform any form of surgery at the hospital, referring all patients needing the service to other hospitals. 

With the support of UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF-UNDP) through the Energy Efficiency Programme, a stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) station was installed at the hospital. Together with a back-up battery of about 7 KWh, the PV station is now supplying energy for lighting, powering the theatre, and refrigeration. Since the installation of the station, more than 15 surgeries are carried out at the hospital in a month; before, all cases requiring surgery were referred to other hospitals. “Before now, we were not doing surgeries at all, but in a month now, we do close to 10 to 15 surgeries”. Dr. Makpa Habu Hassan, one of the doctors at the hospital stated. On a daily basis, about 50 patients are attended to at the hospital for different ailments.

The intervention of UNDP has contributed to enhancing health care service provision in the Community. Uke community members needing surgery no longer have to go far to be attended to. Medical personnel working environments are now more comfortable than before. With steady supply of electricity, the hospital now provides services with higher levels of certainty. During the night, the LED lumps supplied as part of the support help illuminate the hospital premises and surrounding areas.

The use of sustainable energy resources have the potential to improve the standard of living of rural poor, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve the provision of health care services in rural areas. This will contribute to the overall socio-economic development of rural areas and stimulate the broader growth of the Nigerian economy.

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