Washington, D.C., United States — The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) announced that the 11th Hour Project of Palo Alto, California, has awarded SELF a US $500,000 grant to support the solar electrification of seven health clinics for Partners In Health (PIH) in Haiti. The clinics, operated by Zanmi Lasante (ZL), are located in the remote mountain highlands of Haiti and do not have access to the electric grid. In the aftermath of the January earthquake in Port-au-Prince, the health care facilities have been increasingly vulnerable to the unstable supply of diesel fuel needed to operate their generators.
“With electricity knocked out around Haiti, surgeons were forced to operate on patients using flashlights. Laboratory and diagnostic equipment were rendered useless. Electric water pumps were nonfunctional. Gas generators helped fill the gap. But finding fuel quickly became difficult, and gas that could be found carried price tags as high as $20 a gallon in the days following the earthquake. Many of our clinics powered by gas generators came uncomfortably close to running out of fuel,” said Ophelia Dahl PIH’s executive director.
SELF installed the first 10-kilowatt (kW) hybrid diesel system for ZL at the Boucan Carré clinic in September 2009. In response to the recent disaster, PIH has asked SELF to accelerate the timeline to provide solar energy systems to the nine remaining PIH/ZL-run clinics in the program.
“We were very pleased to have been chosen by the 11th Hour Project as a grant recipient. This generous support comes at a crucial moment when Haiti, struggling to rebuild its infrastructure, has an opportunity to get it right with renewable energy,” said Robert Freling, SELF’s executive director.
The solar electrification projects will play a key role in PIH’s three-year recovery and rebuilding plan. The plan includes, among other elements, continuing urgent medical and surgical care operations for earthquake survivors at the PIH/ZL facilities in the Central Plateau and Artibonite Departments; expanding capacity for specialty clinical services needed to care for earthquake survivors; and building and renovating public health infrastructure.
To complete the solar installations for the first five of the nine remaining health clinics, SELF said that it will need to raise approximately $1 million. A portion of this funding is coming from in-kind donations of solar panels, batteries and other system components.