Life-saving solar: Join our Ugandan hospital appeal

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

How do solar panels save lives?

Let’s start from the start.

In southern Uganda, close to the shores of Lake Victoria, a woman goes into labour at home. The children of many previous births within those mud walls are getting ready to make space for one more. But unlike past births, a difficulty occurs and it is time to gather up the US$25 needed for a caesarean and head to the nearest hospital, 30 miles away.

Countless mothers make their way to Kamuli hospital in Jinja under just these circumstances. For those that arrive during the hours of darkness, the cost of the operation could increase to US$35, a huge sum in a country where the World Bank estimates a GDP per capita of US$170.

Kamuli hospital, Uganda. Image credit: Kamuli Friends.

Kamuli hospital, which is around four hours from the capital Kampala, is connected to the country’s unreliable grid. Its only surgical theatre is also home to the only air conditioning unit in the building to help keep the room and its medical staff cold and clean. Should the grid be down at that point in time, the only choice is to use its diesel generators; funding the fuel for those could dictate whether the woman that arrives that night can afford the operation that could save her and her child’s life, before it has even started.

You can probably now see where solar panels and energy storage could play a role.

Why Kamuli?

PV Tech and sister site Solar Power Portal are part of the Henley Media Group, whose chairman Nigel Barklem introduced the idea of solar at the hospital to his friend Dr Philip Unwin. We’re looking for your help now and will also be building a fund-raising element into the hugely popular Solar Power Portal Awards on 13 October in Birmingham, UK.

Dr Unwin has been donating two weeks of his holiday every year since 2006 to help the two staff doctors. He established UK registered charity Kamuli Friends as an official channel to raise funds for the hospital. He has already done great work to help ensure the hospital’s improvement in the short term and in the longer term.

“The hospital was founded by missionaries about 100 years ago,” says Unwin. “The basic structure that is there today is 50 years old and a lot of the plumbing and electronics is just as old.

“The hospital’s main focus is to help pregnant women and their subsequent children. It has a surgical ward and a general medical ward where a huge range of pathologies can be seen ranging from diabetes and heart failure, things we see here in the UK, to things like cerebral malaria and tetanus and recently a case of Marburgs, which is just as deadly, but less well known, than ebola.”

In addition to cutting the hospital’s costs and those of its patients, stable electricity supply could also improve the safety of some procedures.

“It’s really difficult if you have a powercut when you’re in the middle of a surgery, it’s very awkward. It’s quite dangerous really,” says Dr Unwin.

Less dramatic but hugely important is the supply of electricity for domestic use at the hospital. It has long doubled as a nursing school with large numbers of trainees coming to Jinja to learn. With 100 people living onsite (on top of the 100 patients in the wards), electricity is also needed to improve their living standards and aid their education.

“Phones are absolutely vital, very few people have money, they do all their interactions and business on the phones,” explains Unwin.

These living standards also encourage staff to stay on at the hospital allowing it greater continuity and a break from the churn of trainees heading off to Kampala after they are qualified.

We are working with the Kamuli Friends and you, the solar industry, to bring a solar-powered lifeline to the hospital and the half a million people its two permanent doctors serve.

How can I help?

There are three ways you can help:

Donate your time – we need expertise to conceive, design, install and maintain the system
Equipment – we are hoping to install enough solar to power the hospital and its staff accommodation. If you have spare inventory taking up room in the corner of the warehouse and it's suitable for the job, let us know. We’ll be publishing a wish list soon with detail of the kit needed to transform the day to day running of the hospital
Money – the logistics, paid-for expertise not covered by donated time and local engineering assistance will not pay for itself. All donations to Kamuli Friends for this project will help make a huge difference

If you’d like to know more about the charity visit The video below also explains more about the hospital's work and its need for a reliable power source.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you and your organisation can help, email John Parnell, deputy head of content, Solar Media.

The small print

In conjunction with the industry a list of required skills and materials will be developed and hosted on SPP and PV Tech. Donors will be credited on these pages and in our print titles.

Kamuli Friends is registered UK charity number 1155812. Donations will be made to Kamuli Friends and used as it sees fit. Cash and equipment will be used to realise its off-grid power project with any surplus to be used at the charity’s discretion.

22 September 2021
To commemorate the World Energy Storage Day(WESD) on 22 September, being recognized worldwide, Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is organising the 5th global conference and virtual expo, which will be held virtually on 22 September 2021. WESD is a global movement initiated by various apex trade bodies working to promote and adopt energy storage, e-mobility & green hydrogen technologies for a sustainable future. The forthcoming edition of WESD is expected to attract global participation with an intent to facilitate bi-lateral trade, market development and new research and innovation, which will invite 100+ countries, 100+ regulators & policy makers, 100+ International speakers,1000+ organisations, 100+ partners & exhibitors and 20,000+ global delegates.
28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.

Read Next

September 22, 2021
More than 190 US solar companies have warned that proposed duties on imports of modules and cells from three Southeast Asian countries represent an “immediate and serious threat” to America’s solar sector.
September 22, 2021
Access to off-grid electricity should be seen as a key mechanism to drive rural development and improve economic wellbeing and living standards in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), according to a new report by University College London’s (UCL) Engineering for International Development Centre and off-grid, pay-as-you go solar company BBOXX.
September 22, 2021
A project combining 300MWac of solar with a 150MWac/600MWh battery energy storage facility in New Mexico has advanced after DE Shaw agreed to acquire it.
September 22, 2021
Generac Power Systems has bolstered its presence in the microinverter segment with the launch of a new product line that it says allows homeowners to take advantage of the full potential output of solar arrays.
September 22, 2021
Oil and gas major Shell has launched the Shell Energy brand in Brazil and has committed to investing R$3 billion (US$570 million) in renewables in the country by the end of 2025
September 22, 2021
China has appealed a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that rejected the country’s challenges to the US' safeguard tariffs on certain crystalline silicon PV cells.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021