Powering Health in Kenya with Clean Energy

February 23, 2023
Awareness raising campaign at Torosei Clinic in Kajiado, Kenya

Energy for Health, Kajiado, Kenya

If you live in rural Kenya, it’s often a long trek to your nearest health centre and if you arrive between dusk and dawn, you’ll probably find it in darkness.

Many rural health centres, especially in Kajiado in south-western Kenya, don’t have access to an affordable, reliable and sustainable source of energy. This means they can provide only the most basic services. It also creates difficult working conditions for health workers and a lot of improvising, like delivering babies by torchlight, and constant juggling to keep vaccines and medicines at the right temperature to ensure they remain effective. Sadly, the absence of reliable energy also means that people living in the communities served by these clinics, already among the poorest people in the country, are unlikely to receive essential healthcare when they need it most.

Awareness raising campaign at Torosei Clinic in Kajiado, Kenya
An awareness raising campaign at Torosei Clinic

Clean Energy for Better Health

Renewable World has been working globally to transform access to clean energy for better health in rural communities since 2018.

We’ve already helped install solar energy systems and provided support for the provision of energy-enabled equipment, such as refrigerators, sterilisers and nebulisers in 15 remote health centres in Nepal and will connect four more clinics to clean energy by the end of this year. These projects have so far improved access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy-enabled healthcare for more than 24,000 people living in off-grid communities. As a result of these changes, 40% more people are attending their nearest health centre for treatment.

In 2022, thanks to the generous donations we received from the Green Match Fund, and other key supporters, we were able to launch a pilot project to bring clean energy-enabled healthcare to remote communities in Kajiado County, Kenya. The project is called Energy for Health (E4H).

Working in partnership with the Kajiado County Government, last July we launched a brand new initiative to bring clean energy powered healthcare to people served by four clinics in Kajiado West.

Enkoireroi Dispensary, Kajiado County, Kenya
The team outside Enkoireroi Clinic

Kenya Project Update

We are thrilled to report that clean energy systems, and clinical grade refrigeration units, supported by their own independent solar energy systems, have now been installed in the four clinics we prioritised in the first phase of this project: Torosei, Emurkea, Ilkilorit and Enkoireroi. Within days of installation, health staff were delivering babies under solar-powered lighting instead of torchlight at night.

Thanks to the amazing response to our Green Match Fund appeal in April last year, to trust and foundation supporters and some fantastic people who undertook challenge events to raise funds for E4H, we exceeded our project funding target. In total, we raised just over £156,000 – giving us a little more than we’d expected and creating the opportunity to increase the impact of our project.

Newly-installed solar panels on the roof of Torosei Clinic
Newly-installed solar panels on the roof of Torosei Clinic

With the extra funding received, we’ve been able to increase the capacity of the energy system installed in one of the larger clinics, Torosei, where we installed a 5.3 kWp solar system. Each of the other clinics now has a 2.5 kWp system and we were able to increase the number of batteries for each solar system to improve their energy storage capacity. All four clinics have also received a large clinical grade refrigeration unit, powered by 330 watt solar panels.

A further bonus of the extra funding is that we’re now able to help link the clinics to a national funding scheme, the Linda Mama programme, which offers payments for maternal health services. These funds can only be unlocked by completing an online application form and this requires access to a computer and the internet.

Your support enabled us to provide computers and internet packages to the clinics and means that in future, clinic staff will be able to claim funding for the services they provide and be able to reinvest those funds in further service provision and development.

One of the newly-installed clinical grade refrigerators powered by 330 watt solar panels
One of the newly-installed clinical grade refrigerators powered by 330 watt solar panels

Spotlight on Oltepesi Health Centre

Looking forward to what the clinics we’ve supported in Kenya may achieve in future with access to energy, the case study below explains how staff at Oltepesi Health Centre have been accessing funding from the Linda Mama programme and elsewhere to improve health centre facilities and resources.

Nurse Wesley Angima in the new maternity Maternity suite.

Oltepesi Health Centre in Kajiado, Kenya is connected to the national grid.

It’s an excellent example of how the clinics which are being supported through E4H will be able to expand and develop their services now that clean energy and new equipment has been installed.

Photo left, Nurse Wesley Angima, who has driven service improvements at Oltepesi, pictured in the new Maternity Suite, which was funded by the Kajiado County Government.

Nurse Wesley Angima (above) has been working hard to improve Oltepesi Health Centre by tapping into funds available at the national and county level.

Initially, Wesley focused on the Linda Mama, a Government scheme through which women can access pre-and-post natal healthcare free of charge, thanks to a national insurance scheme which reimburses the service provider for the costs of the care they provide.

Payments for services range from Kenyan Shillings (KES) 1,000 (equivalent to about £6.50) for a prenatal visit to 3,500 (£23) for delivery – but payments must be claimed online by the service provider within 24 hours. To help with the paperwork – and ensure timely submissions of applications, Wesley recruited Susan Njambi (pictured below) as a Health Records and Information Officer.

Susan Njambi, from Oltepesi Health Centre, completing online submissions to Linda Mama programme
Susan Njambi, from Oltepesi Health Centre, completing online submissions to Linda Mama programme

Since 2019, the clinic has been able to generate KES 3,480,350 (roughly £25,000) in this way for reinvestment in the clinic, its staff and services.

The funding generated has been used to improve facilities and equipment, and pay for staff, utilities, communications and essential medications.

Impressed by the gains made at this clinic, the County Government provided additional funding for the construction of a new maternity suite at the clinic. Wesley was made County Nurse of the Year in 2021 in recognition of all that he has achieved at Oltepesi.

Expanded vaccine and medicine storage at Oltepesi Health Centre
Expanded vaccine and medicine storage at Oltepesi Health Centre

We’re hoping to see the clinics supported through E4H begin to thrive in the same way as Oltepesi as they begin their transformation with clean energy.

With special thanks to some of our key project funders: EKOenergy, RE Forum Charity and everyone who supported our 2022 Green Match Fund campaign.

One of the four clinics supported through E4H Kenya