Great news! Our solar and battery system at Bo Government Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit is up and running!
As explained in our last newsletter, everything other than the batteries has been in place for a month or so, but we had to wait for our custom-designed batteries to reach Sierra Leone and be cleared through customs. We had hoped that could be done by the end of July, but that was a bit ambitious.
The batteries arrived in early August, were cleared about a week ago, and were quickly installed by our local partners, Energy For Opportunity. After a few days testing, they went live this week, and have been powering the unit ever since! We also have news that a new watertank has been installed which now provides clean water to the unit, saving the nurses and staff having to leave the ward to fetch water in buckets.
We’ll be monitoring the system’s performance closely over the coming months; I am delighted to say we have more than enough funds in the Project Bo bank account to cover regular maintenance. All too often systems like this are funded by donors but fall into disrepair – that is not going to happen here.
We completed fund-raising in July, having hit the full £100,000 target. Design, procurement and construction has cost £77,930 leaving a healthy contingency of £22,201. Once we have a really good handle on likely maintenance costs, the trustees will consider how to manage the surplus. We could keep it in the bank in anticipation of the batteries requiring replacement in seven to 10 years, or, undertake a separate fund-raise for new batteries in due course and use this contingency to fund other related projects.
Dr Niall Conroy (whose tweet about the death of three oxygen- and heat-dependent babies during an overnight power cut in November last year was the catalyst for Project Bo) will be visiting the neonatal unit in October. He will be helping the staff get used to their new, reliable source of electrical power, and also looking at quantifying its medical impacts. We will be taking his advice on where we might achieve the greatest impact with any additional spending.
In any case, please be assured that in line with our fundraising mandate, we will only release funds for activities which support neonatal and maternal health in Bo, or the provision of electrical power for maternal and neonatal health care in other parts of the world where it is currently lacking.
So, at this point, you should feel very proud indeed! We hope you enjoy these pictures of the Project Bo system which you have helped fund. We will be reporting back in due course on how it is working, and the impact it is having.Thank you again for all your support,
The ProjectBo team