Let the light shine

We are thrilled to report that all 166 GreenLamp-funded Solar Suitcases are now installed in Ethiopia as part of our Light for Life Project. This could not have been achieved without all your support and donations, so a huge thank-you from all of us at GreenLamp!

From November 2014 to October 2015,  145 installations have been done to complete the project. The installation team from the Hamlin College of Midwives has travelled to remote corners of Ethiopia; by car, by foot, by horse carriage, by mule. Each installation takes a full day - to install the Solar Suitcase, train the health center staff (including the midwives) on usage and maintenance, and collect data for comparison and follow-up.

What impact are the Solar Suitcases having so far? Data from 17 health centers that have had a Solar Suitcase in use and two trained midwives present for 18 months show very positive results:

  • The number of safe deliveries are up by more than 65%

  • More than twice as many women come for the four prenatal visits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO)  (217%)

  • 70% more families bring their newborn in for a post-natal check up, a very important step in decreasing infant mortality

  • Almost 80% more women come for family planning and reproductive health advice.

The combination of providing rural health centers with sustainable, reliable light and power, plus a trained midwife, is encouraging positive behavioral change in that mothers want to give birth at their nearest health center.  This in turn is supporting an increased number of safe deliveries and providing mothers with access to the knowledge of how to space out and reduce the number of their pregnancies.

“…bringing change on the community to utilize health institutions for maternal service is not [only] a responsibility to be given to an institution or to a government. It is a responsibility shared by the mother, the husband, the community, community leaders, midwives etc. For the Solar Suitcase project to be a success, every player is responsible for the implementation and the longtime success.”

Zelalem Belete, Dean of the Hamlin College of Midwives

GreenLamp provides compact, mobile solar power in the form of “Solar Suitcases” containing solar panels that with a day’s charging from sunlight can power the specially developed medical lighting system, phone chargers and fetal monitors.  A midwife with access to a Solar Suitcase can improve the quality of maternal and newborn health care using renewable and sustainable energy.