Tomorrow morning, I board a KLM flight to Kigali to join The Ihangane Project’s Dr. Wendy Leonard for a three-week stay in Rwanda. Our first destination is Ruli, just north of Kigali and the base for the seven health clinics served by Ihanane. From Ruli, we travel on to Nyange for several days stay around the health clinic.
The clinic serves approximately 20,000 community members and presently has four panels on their roof – not nearly enough for their needs. Nearby, a new lab is under construction that will run off of a diesel generator until solar panels can be provided. While in Nyange, Dr. Leonard and I will review the energy needs of the clinic with health clinicians, as well as explore options for a water treatment system targeting HIV mothers.
The trip also includes meeting with a few solar vendors in Kigali, meeting with the Rwandan staff member from SELF to get a sense of they handle remote monitoring of their solar installations, and doing a field test with a WE CARE Solar “solar suitcase.” I met Dr. Laura Stechal of WE CARE Solar a few weeks ago and was impressed with the solar suitcase, her passion project that emerged from her experience living in Nigeria. The Solar Suitcase is in prototype stage and I’m curious to see how the health technicians respond to the idea. The prototype they built for me has a 20W panel and 12V sealed lead acid battery for energy storage. Any 12V DC electronic can plug into the system – and the panel size can scale as high as 600W. I’ll be leaving the prototype behind when I leave Rwanda to see if it truly survives a walk away test.
A special thanks to the team at SELF (Solar Electric Light Fund) for their willingness to share their methodology and to Manna Energy in Kigali for their input on Rwandan water systems. We’ll be touring some of their sites while in-country as well as visiting with Gardens for Health International, Nicholas Evans of FrontlineSMS, and Tevis Howard of Komaza. More to come and more project info here!