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Powered by the Sun: Supporting vaccination drive in the Himalayas

Situated at the heart of Karnali Province, on the banks of the Karnali river stands a lone white-walled, blue-roofed structure: the only place offering medical care for miles. Around the rural region of Jumla district, approximately 10,000 people from surrounding villages rely on this singular health post, the Pandav Gufa Health Post (PGHP). In addition, 2,000 households in the area depend fully upon the PGHP, as the nearest medical facility (Jumla District Headquarters central medical facility) is located 4-5 hours away.

Jumla view

In spite of the remote location, the health post has trained and skilled medical staff on hand to serve the people of and around their vicinity. However, even with trained staff, the lack of electricity had made it impossible to use most of the medical equipment and machinery. Considering the requirements and need to provide medical services to the destitute villagers urgently, Gham Power and Grid Alternatives partnered up to install solar powered system in the health post.

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Equipped with 2 professional members from the Gham Power team and a few people from Grid Alternatives, we made a 10 day plan for the Pandav Gufa Project. At a time when the country was going through the first stages of lockdown, the assembled team decided to send the equipment in a truck beforehand and set out in the morning through the rocky narrow terrain in a 4×4 Jeep. They reached Pandav Gufa on the third day and set up camp in an isolated area due to the pandemic. The work started on the fourth day. The team started with installing battery inverters and then the actual solar panels. The system was then handed over to the locals on the sixth day of the project, leaving our team four days free to travel around the beautiful Jumla region and scope the area for potential projects. Although operating under new and strenuous circumstances, Gham Power, with the funding and support from GRID Alternatives, was able to install a 5.94 kWp solar system in just 3 days.

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Within 3 days, the Gham Power team had lined the blue roof of the building with enough solar panels to allow the health post to generate its own clean electricity needed to sustain itself for the foreseeable future. Our team also took on the training of a few locals onsite which allowed for local participation in the project. This initiative to train the locals also helped them learn about solar power systems and their maintenance making sure that they can independently handle most maintenance issues. Furthermore, with electricity now readily available, the health post was able to operate not only critical machinery such as X-Ray machines and other diagnostic equipment but was also able to invest in a working refrigerator to store vaccinations for COVID-19. The solar-powered system allowed for the health post to become financially efficient and medical care around the area to significantly improve.

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Few months after the successful solar power installation, vaccinations were made available in Nepal. Now able to generate its own electricity and therefore get a refrigerator to store the vaccines, the health post was able to take care of the vaccination rollout in the area. The health post managed to successfully give out 2,100 vaccines for the village and was even able to extend its refrigerated storage services to nearby health facilities, all of which would have never been possible without the frontliners working hard at Pandav Gufa Health Post, Grid Alternatives and the Gham Power team.

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Gham Power is immensely proud to have been a part of the process of making it possible for the villagers around the area to be vaccinated against coronavirus. Even though one battle has been won, the war against this pandemic is still ongoing and the Gham Power team is always ready to do our best and contribute to the battle against this pandemic, one solar project at a time.