Even before Tropical Storm Ana hit Malawi on January 26, 2022, things were not good with the hydroelectrical grid in the country. The Electrical Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), which supplies Malawi with electricity, was already struggling to repair downed poles/power lines, damaged transformers, and compromised pumping stations due to severe storms that had blown through Malawi since the rainy season had begun in November.
Lifeline Malawi is located north of the area where Cyclone Ana struck and thankfully, we had no major damage. This powerful storm ripped through the southern region, sadly killing thirty-two people, causing devastating flooding, destroying homes, and damaging roads and bridges which would isolate the now homeless people who were needing medical help and food aid. The rebuilding of the region and the care for the people is underway.
The destruction caused by Tropical Storm Anna has generated even more problems for the ESCOM infrastructure. Throughout Malawi, there are now rolling power cuts and Lifeline Malawi is experiencing power cuts for days at a time.
This lack of power makes it very difficult to do the work of Lifeline Malawi. With the Omicron COVID virus in the community, our daily patient count in the Out-patient Department alone has increased from about 4,000 patients to 6,000 patients each month. Most of the increase is due to respiratory illness (COVID) or malaria, which increases in the rainy season. There are machines, like the vital O2 concentrator, laboratory testing machines, refrigeration for medicines and vaccines which require electricity.
Thankfully, there is a solar power system in the RoseTree Maternity Unit used for nighttime deliveries. After a decade of use, the system does not efficiently charge the batteries anymore and now the light gradually dims over the nighttime hours. On investigating new batteries, we find that our system will not work with the new batteries that are sold today. It seems we will need to upgrade the solar power equipment in the future. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) installed a new solar panel with batteries In May 2021 at Lifeline Malawi. This system was installed to support the Electronic Patient Record System and is to be exclusively used for this EGPAF project.
As I write this article, on February 14th, Justus has written to say there has been another storm, with parts of Salima, the nearest town, under water, and he highlights that the Lifeline Malawi Health Centre is on day ten without power.
Please consider donating to Lifeline Malawi to help us find a sustainable solution to the ongoing lack of electrical power in Malawi! The cost of a new system is approximately $6,000.00. Thank you for partnering with us in the work of Lifeline Malawi, in bringing hope and healing to the people we serve.