Solar for Health, Zimbabwe

Our flagship initiatives

Solar for Health

1 in 4

health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have no electricity.

2 in 3

of all health facilities in low- and middle-income countries lack access to reliable energy services.


countries supported by Solar for Health since 2017, including 11 in sub-Saharan Africa.


health centres equipped with solar PV systems since 2017.

Health facilities need power. Clinics, maternity wards, operating rooms, medical warehouses, and laboratories rely on electricity to power the lights, refrigerate vaccines, and operate life-saving medical devices. An inability to carry out these essential services puts lives at risk. All too often, particularly in remote areas, health facilities face significant power shortages or don't have access to electricity.

Since 2017, UNDP has been spearheading the Solar for Health initiative as a means of connecting two vital sectors – energy and health – to help countries advance universal health coverage while protecting the environment. To date, with the support of its partners, UNDP has supported the solar electrification of some 1,000 health centres and storage facilities in 15 countries (Zimbabwe, Sudan, Zambia, South Sudan, Namibia, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Yemen, Angola, Nepal, Uganda, Chad, and Eswatini). UNDP has also supported research on the ground to assess which innovative finance mechanisms can help scale these activities in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Namibia and Zambia.   

Solar for Health interventions help to ensure constant and cost-effective access to electricity for uninterrupted health services, while also mitigating the impact of climate change, building resilience, and advancing multiple Sustainable Development Goals. Broader development benefits of solar energy can also include the creation of green jobs and the development of local manufacturing and markets for solar power. By training women as solar technicians to install and maintain solar panels, the initiative also helps countries advance SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  

Our objectives

The key objectives of Solar for Health are to promote: 

  • Quality health services: Quality healthcare requires a dependable source of power for multiple purposes, including temperature and hygrometry controls, adequate lighting systems, refrigeration, cold rooms and ICT networks for efficient stock and management of information. 

  • Climate-resilient health systems: Distributed renewable energy is a means by which health systems can increase resilience to the challenges presented by climate change, including extreme weather events, droughts, and other events affecting the traditional power supply. The WHO Operational Framework for building climate-resilient health systems highlights the need to take a broader perspective to the challenge of climate change, including a focus on renewable energy in health facilities and using innovative technologies. 

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Energy access plays a vital role in enabling health care, but it can also have averse environmental impact unless it includes an explicit focus on progressively shifting to renewable energy and substituting fossil-based sources. The decommissioning of highly polluting and noisy diesel generators considerably improves the local environment around health facilities. 

  • Cheaper energy: Solar energy results in lower power bills for health facilities. These vital budget savings can then be reinvested to support other priority health programmes or infrastructure. Solar power also generates a rapid return on investment. We estimate a 100% return on investment within 2-3.5 years, on average, when health facilities with unreliable energy sources are installed with solar power. 

Our approach 

Key elements of UNDP’s support to countries through Solar for Health include:  


Our donors