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.
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.
Supply of solar equipment and installation support
UNDP supports countries to procure different sizes of solar photovoltaic systems for different levels of the health care system, based on the energy needs. UNDP has developed standardized Solar for Health equipment lists with specifications and has established long-term agreements (LTAs) with suppliers in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, for specific solar energy photovoltaic systems’ equipment.
Maintenance, technology transfer, and institutional capacity development
National ownership, effective management, and maintenance are critical to ensure the sustainability of investments in Solar for Health. UNDP therefore focuses on capacity building to foster ownership at the national level, complemented by the provision of tools and systems to enable regular monitoring; creating enabling market conditions for clean energy for health systems; and fostering the creation of jobs by supporting training, particularly for rural women, to build, install, maintain, and repair solar electrification systems.
Development of Innovative Financial Mechanisms
UNDP is supporting the development of innovative financial mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of solar assets during their lifetime. One of the alternative models proposed is an energy-as-a-service (EaaS) approach that is currently being explored in five countries. This new delivery model seeks to give health facilities access to energy without having to incur upfront equipment procurement costs, while at the same time providing distributed renewable energy service providers the incentive to ensure service quality and reliability over time.
Solar energy promotion and awareness raising
Sensitization activities at health facilities and their surrounding communities are critical to ensure the sustainability of the project. UNDP aims to support the implementation of community engagement strategies, including: i) Creation of a community volunteer committees to oversee the maintenance of the solar equipment at public hospitals and health facilities; and ii) Promotion of solar energy through the media by audio and visual messages to promote the solar energy beyond the public health sector.
Regulatory and policy framework setting for solar energy provision
Implementing sustainable energy solutions to health facilities requires building solid policy and regulatory frameworks. Without these frameworks, the rules around the provision of solar services for health and associated facilities are unclear, making the future scale up of the solutions less likely or more challenging. UNDP provides targeted technical assistance to help countries build such enabling frameworks.
Understanding the climate change – energy – health interlinks
UNDP support knowledge building to achieve deeper understanding of the links between climate change, health and the need for energy solutions, and advocates for these interlinkages to be included in national health, energy and climate plans.