Solar Power Solutions for Health Care in Haiti

One of the many issues causing the current crisis in Haiti has been recurring fuel shortages. The latest fuel shortage stems partly from low supplies and the country’s inability to pay for the fuel. In a country where more than half the population lives on less than $2.50 a day, things have become unbearable.

The consequences of a fuel shortage are much deeper than not having transportation. No fuel means no diesel to run generators and that is a crisis for a country where 80% of homes and businesses still don’t have electricity. The state-owned electric company Electricite d’Haiti, or EDH provides power to only 20% of the entire country and most people use small individual generators for power.

Imagine with me for a moment that you live on a street with 10 homes. Only 2 of those homes have electricity. The other 8 either go without or have a small generator that runs on diesel fuel. But there is a shortage of diesel fuel so those generators aren’t running at all. The clinic down the road is not open for patients, shortage of fuel. The grocery store has no lights and the food isn’t staying cold, shortage of fuel. Businesses aren’t open, shortage of fuel. Gas stations are roped off, shortage of fuel.  This is what a fuel shortage crisis looks like.

HCO has been blessed to have a very large diesel generator to power the campus in Peredo, as well as a couple of smaller generators for back up. Years ago, we began exploring solar power as an efficient and economical way to generate enough power to meet all of the needs of our growing Peredo campus. In 2018, Phase I of the campus solar project was completed and now provides 7.5 KW of power to different parts of campus including team dormitories, kitchen, and staff apartments.

Not only do these solar panels provide clean energy, but also significant cost savings to the mission by not running the large generator as much. With the current fuel shortage and the cost of diesel, these solar panels are a tremendous blessing. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of hours we have power on campus. Over the summer, there were only a few hours in the very early morning in which we lost power and had to use the generator! This is a drastic improvement from the past when the generator ran for 2/3 of the day.

Larissa Blevins our Team and Sponsorship Coordinator has spent numerous summers on the Peredo campus and has seen first hand the benefits of solar power.

“We got solar on most of our campus right before my second summer in 2018. Before solar, we would go through so much fuel even with mostly only having power after dark until 2 or 3 in the morning. Solar has allowed the campus to function without the added stress of having to think ahead and plan things to a certain extent such as doing a load of laundry, using a blender, or being able to pump water into the water tanks so the dorms, apartments, and kitchen could have running water. Those are just a few of the things we had to think of during my first summer interning.

Although we still have to conserve our resources, solar has made the process much easier. I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like for individuals already in survival mode amidst the current stressful situation in Haiti, without the added “luxury” of power during this time of little supply and very expensive fuel. Our campus can be and has been a place where individuals seek refuge, fellowship, and even charge their phones. I can’t wait until Phase II is finished!” 

Phase II will provide solar power to Peredo Community Hospital, including the surgery center and pharmacy as well as Emmanuel Christian Church on campus. We were unable to install solar panels at PCH in 2018 due to the construction of the new surgical wing. It is now absolutely imperative that we get the entire campus on solar power. PCH is seeing an average of 550 patients each month and has performed over 150 surgeries since the surgical wing opened in April of this year. Due to this increase in patient volume, the generator has had to run nonstop, 24/7, as Peredo Community Hospital, is the only hospital currently open in Southeast Haiti. If there is a fuel shortage we want to continue to bring hope and healing to our community. We need to raise an additional $35,000 to take this next step!

Solar power won’t fix the current crisis in Haiti but it does make a difference in life and in ministry. Power allows our staff to accomplish more for the Kingdom while providing ministry opportunities. Solar power is a great solution in continuing to bring light into the darkness and hope when life seems hopeless.