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Bwindi Community Hospital is the health centre for a population of over 120,000 people living in southwestern Uganda. The hospital is more than 12 hours’ drive from the capital, Kampala, on roads in very poor condition, two kilometres from the Congolese border and one kilometre from the impenetrable Bwindi forest. Most of the natives are farmers or herders, who live without running water or electricity, walking for hours each day to fetch water and firewood, and most families survive on less than a dollar a day. There are few other decent health services in this very isolated region, and people sometimes walk for more than a day to reach hospital.

As it is not a public hospital, the state’s contribution to its running is minimal, and it relies essentially on donations and the limited participation of patients who can afford it. The largest donors are certainly the Fondation Dr Kellermann and the Rotary Club. Africomed, a very small association, has made teaching its primary mission: the association subsidizes the post-graduate training of several members of staff and provides the specialized equipment needed to carry out this teaching on site or at an institute in the country.

Today, the greatest challenge is access to electricity: electrical equipment has been supplied to its two operating theatres, neonatal unit, laboratory and radiology department, among others.

The hospital faces a shortage of energy resources: it has operated mainly with a micro-dam since 2012, two generators and has occasionally used an unreliable national grid since 2017. Energy shortages and peaks are the cause of most breakdowns, some of which are beyond repair. There’s no point in helping the hospital grow without ensuring a stable supply of electricity.

The number of people directly concerned: Hospital patients (40,000 per year) and around 400 students from the nursing school.

Africomed studied the project, financing a visit by an electrical engineer (Mr. Bacciarini) from a well-known Swiss company. His findings formed the basis of this application.
Kampala-based SolarNow was selected to install the photovoltaic panels.

Main objective:
To provide the hospital with the energy resources it needs to pursue its medical objectives.
To achieve this, solar panels are to be installed to supplement the energy already supplied by the existing micro-dam and the two on-site generators.

Project financing

Total project cost: $150,000 (approx. CHF 136,000)

Africomed contribution: CHF 30’000.-
Bwindi Community Hospital: CHF 10’000.-
Fribourg-Solidaire: CHF 25’000.- (requested)
Donor X: CHF 20’000.-
Others: Rotary Basel and private foundations.