Clean Energy Access Program
International Institute for Energy Conservation
Non-governmental organization (NGO)
In India, a higher percentage population living in remote villages and the available infrastructure to deliver health care services are still surviving without proper access to affordable and reliable electricity. The lockdowns and restricted movements due to Covid-19 have further deteriorated the situation and made it a strong case to improve the delivery of health care services through providing access to clean and reliable electricity. Primary Health Clinics (PHCs) in the villages lack the required infrastructure to deal with emergencies. Access to electricity is the key barrier in addition to the absence of refrigeration facilities and the quality of available equipment to handle emergencies and treat common illnesses. Poor access to electricity also affects the ability and functioning of health workers. Remotely located PHCs require the infrastructure to ensure a 24X7 supply of electricity using solar or other renewable sources. The off-grid decentralized renewable power is the only answer to this challenge. The off-grid energy solutions not only allow the people to access the needed healthcare but also ensure investment in clean and sustainable energy infrastructure for the future. The International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC) is implementing a program in the State of Uttarakhand to ensure the availability of 24X7 electricity to PHCs using solar energy. With the 24X7 functioning of PHCs, the program is ensuring the improved delivery of health care services for the poor. The primary objective of the IIEC model is to make the available health infrastructure deliver better services. The model has focussed on improving the quality of life for the poor, especially for women and children through providing effective health care services. The model has high scale-up potential due to its alignment with the State Government’s initiative about increasing the use of renewable energy. IIEC is providing solar power systems along with batteries, inverters, refrigerators, LED bulbs, and cell phone charging stations to the PHCs. Besides, village women are being trained for the day-to-day maintenance of solar systems. The program impact is being documented for the dissemination of learnings.
During the last four years, IIEC has designed, tested, and implemented the model to enable the effective delivery of health care and education services through improved access to clean energy. The designed and tested model is now ready for scale-up and replication in other parts of the state and areas with similar topographic and climatic conditions. The improved access to clean energy provided under the program to ensure 24x7 functioning of PHCs through solar-powered systems and through providing refrigerators (for storage of life-saving vaccines & medicines), LED lights and mobile phone charging facilities is contributing to the change in the life of people. Through the implementation of this program, the effort is to complement the ongoing efforts by the local Government in strengthening the infrastructure for improved delivery of health care services to the poor living in remote villages. To ensure the sustainability of the model, the project has developed a strong baseline of data for each village where access to clean energy is being provided to the health clinics. The data includes available human and natural resources, infrastructure, diseases being treated, diseases that can be treated in the future, demographic details, socio-economic conditions of families, the distance of nearby towns where medical facilities are available, the financial burden due to visiting hospitals in nearby towns, number of people visiting the PHCs every day/month, etc. To monitor the change, the data about treatment, an additional number of diseases covered, an increase in the number of patients, and other benefits are being collected every month to monitor the program impacts. This data is important to document the changes and to share with the outside world. Apart from selective case studies, little data has been shared about the energy access programs internationally. Further, to ensure the day-to-day maintenance of solar systems, training is being provided to health clinic staff and the women in the villages. For women, the skills about repair and maintenance of solar systems are an additional source of income. The entire eco-system created under the program has ensured the delivery of improved quality health services to the poor and supported the supply chain (cold chain) for transport and storage of lifesaving vaccines and medicines. The Covid-19 vaccine, once available, will not face any problem in reaching out to the communities living in remote areas. The model has focused on improving the efficiency of health care services to ensure a better quality of life for the poor. The model has high scale-up potential due to its alignment with on-going initiatives in the State.
Since the start of the program, IIEC has focussed heavily on establishing a strong baseline of data and design of indicators to continuously measure the impacts. The tools are being used to analyse the data and to develop various scenarios. Key milestones indicating about the success are summarized below: • 200% increase in the number of patients visiting the PHCs every month for getting the required treatment. • The hours of operations for PHCs have increased from 2-3 hours to 8-10 hours a day. • About 60% of the PHCs can provide emergency treatments during late hours or the night due the availability of 24x7 electricity. • There has been 150% increase in the number of diseases being treated. • Due to improved energy access, the PHC staff has started staying in their allotted residences within the premises of PHCs. They were not living there due to no electricity. • People can save money on visiting nearby towns for treatments. It costs them between $75 to $100 whenever they go for treatments to nearby towns. This includes travel, lodging, boarding and other expenses in addition to the mental trauma faced by them. • PHCs are providing dog bite, snake bite vaccines and tetanus injections to the patients due to the availability of refrigerators for storage and 24x7 electricity. The program has saved 104.62 tonnes of GHG emissions during the last 3-years due to the use of clean energy. This is how we are assessing the success of our solution.
The program has been a success due to the funding provided by some like-minded foundations. IIEC also utilizes its funds to meet the training and capacity building costs. The entire set of equipment is provided free of costs to the PHCs and after commissioning, an agreement is signed with them to transfer the ownership and to get the commitment about taking care of the repair and maintenance. The solar systems are saving monthly costs on electricity bills for PHCs. The refrigerators provided have improved the functioning of medical supply chains. Health clinics can handle the administration of Covid-19 vaccine now. However initially IIEC had to face some hurdles. Listed below are some of the hurdles the team faced: The government staff at the PHC was hesitant at first since the technology was new to them and they were not aware about the after care and maintenance costs, they would need to bare in the future. In some of the PHCs doctors and nurses did not visit as there was no electricity to charge phones and during summers without fans it used to be extremely uncomfortable. Thus, the team had to visit the sites multiple times to meet the right person (the doctor) and in seeking the permission to provide the energy access services. A few PHC’s are in remote locations far from the main highway/road. Thus, at the time of installation, it was difficult to carry the equipment’s, especially during the rainy season months.
The program is providing increased amount of employment generation opportunities in villages. The key stakeholders benefitting from the program include the state health department, health clinics in villages, vendors/technology providers, medicine suppliers, village communities, women, and equipment providers. The improved socio-economic status is also opening the doors for leveraging the public and private sector funds for implementation of other development programs in the villages. The impact monitoring data provides the evidence about bringing the change in 25 villages. The program is contributing towards building climate resilient communities in the remote villages. The improved delivery of health care services has positive impacts on the health of people, especially the women and children. The improved access to electricity using the solar power has proven that the model is more sustainable than depending upon grid electricity supplies, which is of poor quality and unreliable. Program has benefitted 25 PHCs with the provision of 24X7 access to electricity. The current number of beneficiaries are more than 6000 (January 2021). The target is to cover at least 200 PHCs during the next 3-years. Each PHC provide the service to 1 to 3 villages. Thus, the program provides direct and indirect benefits to greater number of communities. The program impacts are closely monitored and are being documented for larger dissemination. Through this program, we plan to create increased amount of employment generation opportunities in remote villages.
Please check the link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWSlY-QvMQ&t=214s ) to watch the program video as the evidence about the work towards building resilient communities. Brief Note about the program is provided in the link – https://iiec.org/primary-health-care-access-to-clean-energy.
IIEC initiated the program considering that the quality and reliability of the available electricity in the villages is poor. As the spread of the pandemic was growing, the situation was becoming challenging for health workers and PHCs. Primarily due to the restricted cold chains and lack of refrigeration facilities which makes the poor more vulnerable. Interrupted supplies of vaccines including for influenza, animal bites or tetanus injections and the supply and storage of Covid-19 vaccine was a major hindrance in providing primary healthcare to the village communities. IIEC’s program has helped the health clinics function more effectively during the covid-19 period due the availability of solar electricity and the refrigerators to store the vaccines and life-saving medicines. The out-patient treatments were managed more efficiently by the doctors. The feedback received from the health clinics has confirmed that the access to electricity is the key in improving the delivery of health care services in remote villages. The only problem faced during the coronavirus pandemic was to stop the work in new clinics due to lockdown and restricted travel. The Covid-19 vaccine, once available for public, will not face any problem in reaching out to the people living in remote villages. The health clinics have become more resilient with 24X7 access to clean energy. For better dissemination of learnings, IIEC is now preparing to use the building rule based predictive models and algorithms to add value to the success monitoring of the program.
SDGS & Targets
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Deliverables & Timeline
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Direct beneficiaries (i.e., the primary end users): 130,000 The proportion of women and girls among the direct beneficiaries: 50% are women and girls. The project will directly impact the people residing in the villages including men, women, and children. After the electrification of the PHC’s and schools they can live a better life and they will not need to travel long distance for basic medications. The project will ensure that the vendors who provide the solar systems should train women or youth/staff of PHC/School in each village for taking care of any immediate repair and maintenance requirements. This training can follow a financing incentive for the trained women/youth where they can charge a small amount for providing the services. This is one way of generating employment through this program and creating a sense of ownership amongst the rural households for managing the resource provided under the program. This program will empower the state government as the same model can be replicated in different villages.