On November 19, 2017 three babies at Bo Government Hospital died when a power shortage stopped their oxygen supply. Project Bo was established to see this never happens again.
Bo is the third largest city in Sierra Leone and home to about half a million people, most of whom live below the poverty line. It also has one of the world’s worst infant mortality rates. Simple, preventable, infections are routinely killing young children and pregnant women. One in 20 babies will die before they are one month old. Hospitals and clinics often don’t have electricity or running water to effectively care for them. Even basic medication is scarce.
Still rebuilding from the Civil War of 1991 to 2002, when much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed, the power supply in Sierra Leone remains exceptionally poor, plagued by extreme voltage variations and frequent, long outages. Only 13% of the population receives power and many areas have no grid access at all.
The two main power sources are the oil fired Kingtom Power Station and the Bumbuna hydro-electric power plant. The Kingtom Station is aging and unable to ensure the delivery of a reliable and stable supply. While Bumbuna hydro plant has the ability to generate 50MW, but during the long dry seasons the reservoir often runs low, leaving much of the country without power.For critically ill babies uninterrupted access to oxygen and/or thermal support are essential. Just a short time without either can, and does, kill these babies. It is truly humbling to see what doctors and nurses can do when given the right resources.
During the Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016, medical resources were diverted away from day to day care and the health system was badly compromised. Providing new-born care in Sierra Leone has always been challenging, but an already struggling system effectively collapsed. Once the Ebola crisis was declared over, a long process of rebuilding the health service began.
Niall Conroy is a lecturer in the Centre for Emergency Medical Science at University College Dublin, Ireland. He has been working in Sierra Leone since 2012, when he spent a year as the staff paediatrician in the children's ward at Bo Government Hospital. In 2017, Niall was tasked by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone with establishing a newborn intensive care unit in Bo, which is now up and running. As well as working in Sierra Leone, Niall has also worked in paediatric and newborn medicine in Somaliland and Nepal, and has spent time working on the Every Newborn Action Plan at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Niall's PhD work is focusing on barriers and facilitators to quality sustainable newborn care in Bo.
Michael Liebreich is Founder and Senior Contributor to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He serves on the high-level advisory group for the UN Secretary General's Sustainable Energy for All initiative and is a member of the following Advisory Boards: Ignite Power, a rapidly-growing provider of solar rooftops in Africa; Shell New Energies; the OECD Centre on Green Finance; Imperial College’s Masters programme in Climate Finance and Management; Women in Sustainability, Energy and Renewables; the Hawthorn Club for senior women in the energy sector; and Bertrand Piccard’s World Alliance for Efficient Solutions. The Liebreich Foundation is Michael Liebreich’s personal charity.
Richenda is an energy access expert who led Energy Access at the UN Foundation and with the
UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. She launched the 2,300 member Energy Access
Practitioner Network, focused on off-grid and mini-grid renewable energy solutions. She is now
Chair, International Institutions at the Global LPG Partnership, addressing cooking energy access and a member of the World Bank's Energy Program Technical Advisory Group (ESMAP). Richenda previously worked in emerging markets renewable energy private equity
investment and was CEO of an international women's entrepreneurship NGO. She is a board
director of SELCO India and Energy 4 Impact, a founding U.S. Women's Clean Energy
Ambassador (Clean Energy Ministerial C3E initiative) and an advisor to many off-grid
companies and social enterprises.
The Rahul Boyle Foundation supports initiatives that bring brighter futures to society’s most vulnerable.
Project Bo is a project of the Liebreich Foundation, a small family charity set up by Michael Liebreich as a vehicle for charitable activities focusing on the following areas: Climate & Environment; Disability & Inclusion; Education; Entrepreneurship; Sport & Health; Sustainable Development; Veterans, Refugees & Victims of Violence; London