Ethiopia - Solar electrification of the health centre in the Tierkidi refugee camp in Gambela

Description: Solar electrification of the health centre in the Tierkidi refugee camp in Gambela
  • Localisation : Ethiopia
  • ONG partenaire : blueEnergy
  • Dates : 2019-2020
  • Statut du projet : Archive
  • Engagement financier: 22 000 €
  • Selected project
  • In progress
  • Realized

Presentation of the NGO


Created in 2004, blueEnergy France is an international solidarity association (1901 law), recognized as being of general interest, member of the blueEnergy group, which includes 2 other non-profit entities: blueEnergy Nicaragua and blueEnergy USA.
blueEnergy’s mission is to improve the living conditions of isolated populations by developing renewable energies and associated essential services, in a global approach, to contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world. Its actions are always part of a transversal perspective of adaptation to climate change, and in a concern for gender equality.
Since 2014, MCMDO (Mothers and Children Multisectoral Development Organization –, a local NGO in Ethiopia, and blueEnergy have been partners in developing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for disadvantaged populations.

Context of the project

The civil war that has been raging in Southern Sudan since 2013 has forced many of its inhabitants to flee to neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia. As the conflict in Southern Sudan entered its fifth year in 2018, the humanitarian crisis continues to intensify and expand. The cumulative effects of widespread violence and sustained economic decline have further reduced people’s ability to cope with threats to their health, safety and livelihoods. There are 7 million people in need of assistance and protection, while more than 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries.
Ethiopia is the third largest host country for refugees, with 530,000 people fleeing to the Gambela region in the southwest of the country, a territory equivalent in size to Sicily, in early October 2017.

The Tierkidi refugee camp is located near the town of Gambela. It is one of the 7 camps in the Gambela region, which hosts a total of about 370,000 South Sudanese refugees. The Tierkidi camp has a total population of more than 72,000 refugees, 88% of whom are women and children.
The target population of the project is mainly women and children receiving care at the MCH (Mother and Children Health) block of the camp health centre.
MCMDO has been working in Gambela since July 2014 as part of the Humanitarian Responses Program (HRP) in collaboration with international organizations UNHCR and WFP to assist refugees in the areas of food security and livelihood activities for the most vulnerable groups.
It is in this context that MCMDO teams analysed the electricity needs of the health centre in this camp with the managers of ARRA (Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs – an organization responsible for infrastructure in refugee camps) in order to propose an alternative solution based on solar energy to meet the priority electricity needs of the MCH (Mother and Children Health) block.

Presentation of the project

The energy problem

In the National Light For All Programme published by the Ethiopian government in 2017, it is reported that only 32% of households have access to electricity (21% are connected to the grid and 11% are connected in off-grid mode – solar lanterns, Solar Home Systems or mini-grids).

More specifically, 57% of health centres had access to electricity in 2015. For the Tierkidi camp, ARRA installed a diesel generator system with electricity production for the health centre’s highest priority needs.
The installation of an AC Coupling solar power plant will reduce the health centre’s operating costs while maintaining the possibility of a hybrid solution with the diesel generator to maintain service continuity in the most difficult situations (such as reduced sunshine in the rainy season, higher electricity consumption in certain cases, etc.).
In the medium term, MCMDO plans to expand the capacity of the solar power plant to meet the priority needs of all the blocks of the health centre (programme to be planned according to the available funding).

The adopted solutions

A solar power plant in AC Coupling configuration was chosen to meet the energy needs of the health centre. This type of configuration has several advantages in the context of the project:
Optimal configuration in voltage and current for this type of power
Use of SMA SMC7000 converters available as a donation from the EDF Foundation
Possibility of capacity expansion by adding modules (converters and solar panels)
Possibility of connection in hybrid mode with diesel generator (or network if available)
The 14 kWp AC Coupling configuration proposed for this project consists of the following equipment:

– 96 PVL144 Unisolar
– 2 SMA Mini Central SMC7000
– 2 ADM Sunny Island
– 24 OPzV Battery 2V, 1000Ah

The solar power plant will meet the centre’s daily energy needs of 39,280 kWh with an autonomy of at least half a day.
The maintenance and daily operations of the solar power plant will be carried out by ARRA’s technical teams. A maintenance partnership will be defined with MCMDO for 2nd level support if necessary. The installed equipment will benefit from a 2-year warranty period. For performance monitoring, Sunny Island SMA equipment is equipped with a monitoring function that can be used locally or remotely via connection to the Sunny Portal site.