Nodepage

Call the midwife!

Magboula is one of the women at the heart of a solar energy project in Barbujat, near El Fashir in North Darfur. She has been a midwife here all her life and her job has many challenges. It’s a great responsibility delivering new-born babies at any time of day, but one of her main hurdles was reaching her patients at night. She would at times venture into the night on roads filled with thorns and the threat of snakes and scorpions hiding in the corners of the dark alleys she had to frequent.

“My job is to respond to any call day or night. Any delay on my part jeopardizes the lives of mother and child,” Magboula explained.

The introduction of sustainable solar energy to this community, with the support of Practical Action and EKO energy, will bring multiple benefits, especially for women and children. Schools are able to stay open in the evening and provide much needed adult literacy classes.  Children can study more safely with bright solar lanterns than smoky kerosene lamps.  A solar mill in the market will grind cereals in a fraction of the time it takes by hand, freeing up women's time for other tasks. The clinic will have lighting and better sterilisation equipment as well as refrigeration for vaccines.

Magboula is delighted.

“It’s now so different, when I get a call to help delivering a baby, I can rush with no fear. Before the project it was difficult to reach the soon-to-be mother’s house, only using a wood light or the light of the moon. Since Practical Action brought their integrated solar lighting to our village, the problems that I faced are a long forgotten memory and my road is bright.

“It has changed my life completely. I don’t have to be anxious when a woman goes into labour at night. Now when I receive a call that a woman is in labour, I just carry my solar light and rush to get there as fast as I can. In the past, when I arrived at the house, I had to wait till the family arranged a source of light, sometimes it was a torch, fire or candle, other times we had to depend on the moonlight only. Now, none of this is needed the process is easier and smoother than before.” 

Practical Action’s project has also provided solar powered charging sockets, which encouraged Magboula to buy a mobile phone so people can contact her wherever she is.

“If a family wanted to reach me, they had to send someone to my house to inform me and guide me to the designated house. Now all they have to do is calling my mobile number,” she says.

Providing greater opportunities for women is a key focus of this work. A local women's network is running a revolving fund administered to provide loans for people unable to afford the upfront costs of the solar equipment.  Savings made from not buying expensive kerosene will help people to repay their loans.  Supplying female market traders with solar lights and charging equipment will give them the opportunity to increase their incomes.

Barbujat has an important role in the region as it lies on one of the main migratory routes used by pastoralists in Darfur.  It hosts the largest rural market in the district.  The health clinic serves a wide area and the four schools have students from more than a dozen neighbouring villages.  This makes it the ideal place to showcase the benefits of solar energy more widely and address the energy poverty that restricts development in the region.

Solar powered smart village, Barbujat, Sudan

The problem In Sudan, more than 70% of people live in rural areas and access to sustainable energy in these areas is extremely low. Only 5% of families have access to electricity across North Darfur and lack of electricity has serious impacts on the quality of life for fami...

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