Powering medical care in Sub-Saharan Africa with solar
The story behind Sopowerful
BayWa r.e. is proud to support Sopowerful. Their mission: ‘Solar where it matters most’. The foundation, recognized as official Public Benefit Organisation, implements solar systems that empower life-changing initiatives and improve opportunities for people in dire need. It is mainly operating in rural areas in South-East Africa and implements infrastructure that enables better education, healthcare, and access to water.
The initiative was founded in 2019 by our former colleague Stefano Cruccu. While Stefano was happy to work at BayWa r.e., he realized that he could make an even bigger impact on people’s lives with renewables – where it mattered most. And he did exactly that: Stefano moved to Malawi, South Africa, 10,000 kilometres from home and started to change lives for the better with Sopowerful.
At BayWa r.e., we are more than impressed by Stefano’s foundation. It’s making a tangible impact where it matters most and shows how renewable energy is not only a force in the fight against climate change, but also against poverty and inequality. That is why it is, true to its name, so powerful – and why we are delighted to continue our support for its transformational work. See how Sopowerful empowers life-changing projects with solar energy.
The beginning: Mwanyama Clinic
In early 2020, Sopowerful successfully completed its first project: electrification of the Mwanyama Clinic in rural Malawi. Previously, the lack of any power supply had significantly limited what the clinic could do for its about 2,000 patients that rely on it yearly: no light and no dependable storage for medicine and vaccines were just two of the biggest problems.
After some intense weeks of research and analysis, it was confirmed that solar power would be the perfect solution to provide the clinic with electricity reliably and cost efficiently. Cooperating with Village Foundations, a small non-profit from the UK, and a local solar contractor, Sopowerful launched a crowd funding campaign that yielded the necessary funds in less than two weeks.
By the end of February, the Mwanyama Clinic had its own solar-plus-storage system: a step of development celebrated with a joyful inauguration. Finally, the clinic had reliable access to light and power and could store medication – a relevant, direct, and lasting impact on the lives of Mwanyama village and hundreds of others from surrounding communities.
A new health center with reliable electricity
Wandikweza Health Center was established in 2021 and serves in particular the poor communities of Dowa, a region in Central Malawi. Its goal is to end preventable deaths amongst all women, children, and adolescents.
Electricity had always been an issue, since the local grid company did initially not reach the health centre. Today, the centre and its services (community health workers, nurses on motorbikes, mobile clinics, etc.) are relying on a 7kWp solar power system.
The number of people depending on Wandikweza health center is growing by the day (12,000 last year). This year, an expansion of the centre, and in turn the solar power system, will be considered.
Reliable water supply at Mua Hospital
Every year, more than 17,000 patients depend on the healthcare provided by Mua Hospital in Dedza, Malawi. The unstable local electricity grid not only led to blackouts, but also to an extremely unstable water supply. As a result, the quality of medical care was often lacking.
This was an extensive project for Sopowerful, which included a 2kWp photovoltaic solar system, an electric DC water pump, as well as water storage tanks with a total of 25m³ in size. Furthermore, with its contractor the Sopowerful team reinforced the existing water storage infrastructure while also improving the hospital’s pipework infrastructure.
The project was a fantastic success: as of January 2022, the hospital has a stable water supply, powered by solar energy – a huge step forward to provide basic needs for its patients.
In developing countries the healthcare systems still face strong limitations. One of these is unreliable electricity supply, which is often directly linked with water supply. With Sopowerful, we want to change this and enable the improvement of healthcare for everyone.