"Lack of electricity forced our healthcare center to close. With the installation of a solar micro-grid and solar-power vaccine refrigerator, work was able to resume.” Tariq, 46, the manager of Al-Za’zea Al Ulya healthcare center, reflects on the situation before and after solar power.
Al-Za’zea, in the south-west of Taiz governorate, is home to close to 15,000 people. A remote area suffering economically due to the war, people have struggled to find stable work, and the rough terrain has deprived the community of access to basic services such as markets, electricity, and importantly, healthcare.
High fuel prices restrict mobility as villagers cannot afford to pay, forcing them to rely on what little services are available locally. As the only health facility in Al-Za’zea, Al Ulya healthcare center has become indispensable. When faced with a shortage of power supply things looked dire – the lives of children were now at risk as vaccines could not be kept cold without power for the refrigerators. At its worst, only 50 children were being vaccinated per month, and with limited access to gas for the refrigerators, vaccinations were often delivered 1-3 months late.
Today, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its local partner, Oxfam, 27 healthcare facilities across Yemen have been provided with solar micro-grids and solar-power refrigerators, benefitting more than 208,000 people. Now operating at much higher capacity, the healthcare center is able to vaccinate almost 70 children monthly.
These solar micro-grids and solar-powered vaccine refrigerators provide 24 hours of electricity every day, saving families a long and costly – and sometimes dangerous – three-hour journey to the next operational healthcare facility.
The increased availability of medical services provides care for over 5,000 people living in the Al-Za’zea catchment area, “The reliable electricity supply has improved our capacity, increasing the number of patients we can receive – which includes up to 175 visits per month by local women seeking family planning services and pregnancy care, as well as treatment for malnourished children,” explains Tariq. “We are in the process of getting new testing tools for the medical lab, which will allow testing and diagnosis for various diseases such as typhoid,” adds Tariq, optimistic about the wider scope of medical services the facility can now provide. “Health infrastructure in Yemen is deteriorating, especially in remote communities. Investment in energy – like solar – is key to ensuring Yemenis can access the healthcare they need, no matter where they are.”
These activities were implemented as a part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRYJP II) in partnership with Oxfam. The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services. ERRY II is a 3-year programme financed by the European Union and the Swedish International Development Agency, and will be implemented in Yemen by UNDP, FAO, ILO, and WFP, in six vulnerable governorates: Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj, Abyan, Taiz and Sana’a.
For more information about the ERRY II Project, please visit the Project webpage.