MSF undertakes to use green, sustainable energy sources
The best energy of all is energy that we do not consume. We have taken this sentiment to heart. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the capacity of humanitarian aid organisations to reduce non-essential travel substantially. We are now using the electronic means of communication at our disposal to interact with other people without any need for our teams to travel.
Unfortunately, we cannot eliminate the use of energy completely. We are therefore doing everything we can to reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels.
A number of projects are now making use of renewable energy sources and we would like to describe here an initiative launched in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is enabling us to save lives with the aid of solar energy.
In 2019, Kusisa and Kigulube hospitals, which are located in an isolated, unstable region of DRC, were forced to cope with very precarious access to electricity. Our teams had to deal with power cuts even in the operating theatres, as the supply was dependent on diesel-powered generators, which were unable to cater for the needs of all departments at the same time.
These regions of South Kivu are isolated and mountainous. Bringing in diesel requires enormous logistical operations, which have to be repeated regularly. The problem has therefore been tackled differently, by opting for a solution that provides autonomous energy supplies: solar panels.
In order to instal them, we worked with a specialised Congolese company, GoShop, which is also responsible for the system’s maintenance. We opted for lithium-ion batteries, which are far more efficient and have a longer life: around ten years, as against two or three years for traditional batteries. This means that the system is far more durable and will also be easier to run when we withdraw from working at the hospitals concerned.
‘A sound health system requires reliable and sustainable energy and energy sources.’ - Iñaki Goicolea, electrical engineer who helped to convert Kusisa and Kigulube hospitals to solar power.
Thanks to solar energy, access to electricity and light is guaranteed, making it possible to provide quality care to all patients, at any time, while reducing our transport costs and our carbon footprint.
This initiative is not the only one, and we shall tell you in detail about projects that are more environment-friendly and present our patients with more secure prospects.