Guest blog post by Chawezi Gondwe, CEM
The Chitipa District Health Office (DHO) in Malawi is excited with the Green Inclusive Energy (GIE) project which Community Energy Malawi (CEM) is implementing in the district. The DHO lamented at the lack of technical backstopping on solar PV and other renewable energy systems installed at health centres in the district.
“We have several partners who support us with solar installations and usually 2 or 3 months down the line, the systems breakown because of lack of professional maintenance”, said Dr Bandawe, Chitipa’s DHO.
“We are really excited and we have faith in the GIE project, from now on we expect an improvement in the way energy issues are handled within the district.
A visit to the Ipenza Health Centre showed a properly installed solar PV system powering a refrigerator that is used for storing vaccines.
Despite this good development, CEM technicians were quick to note that the installation lacked aftercare. Some of the noted issues included dusty solar panels and an unstable PV array. To correct the situation, CEM’s Energy Development Officer for the North recommended the inclusion of the DHO’s technical personnel in the upcoming trainings for solar PV technicians.
From the visit, it is clear that technical skills are required especially at community level if communities are to effectively benefit from renewable energy technologies.
CEM has been rolling out the GIE project with assistance from Hivos Southern Africa. The programme is premised on the belief that decentralised energy solutions for those that cannot access the central grid are key. Only by working together we can make this happen and open doors for human development and economic growth while combatting climate change.