Lucy Nyoike is pleased to have succeeded in organizing medical supplies for three hospitals in the vicinity of three of our power plants in Uganda and Rwanda from her Nairobi home office.
You usually support our team of project developers, engineers and financing experts engaged in developing and operating renewable power plants in Sub-Saharan Africa. How did you get involved in this project?
responsAbility Renewable Energy Holding (rAREH) is operating and building small hydropower plants in rural Rwanda and Uganda, among others. In the process, we are spending a lot of time with the local communities to ensure that they are involved in and get to benefit from these developments. With the spread of Covid-19, these communities find themselves in a precarious situation. Healthcare facilities are simply not equipped for emergencies as the ones this pandemic brings. This is why we decided to try to offer local communities our support.
How did you go about this?
From our work with local communities we knew that there are three local hospitals serving areas where we operate and build power plants. These hospitals are located in Kasese and Mpanga in Uganda and Rwaza in Rwanda. We reached out to these local hospitals and asked whether they needed any material or equipment. It turned out that basically everything needed to treat Covid-19 patients and keep the medical staff safe was in short supply: hygiene handwash, alcohol-based sanitizer, surgical masks, aprons. And, of course, ventilators and tents needed to isolate patients. We managed to source most of the supplies and arranged to donate them to the hospitals, the exception being ventilators: Demand for this type of equipment far exceeds supplies, and what is available is extremely expensive.
"At the local hospitals serving the communities around our power plants, basically everything needed to treat Covid-19 patients and keep the medical staff safe was in short supply."
Did you source the material centrally?
No. I am based in Kenya, the three hospitals are located in Rwanda and Uganda. All three countries are in complete lockdown, so transporting equipment across borders wasn’t an option. We had to source everything within the country of destination. In Rwanda, we were facing an additional challenge as we were told we could only donate things to the central authorities in Kigali. As we wanted to make sure our material reached the local hospital in Rwaza, it took a lot of coordination to bring this about. We succeeded in the end, and our material was safely delivered.
How will you be keeping in touch with local communities during the lockdown?
We have very dedicated Community Liaison Officers on the ground. We are in touch with them every so often as we have to keep tab and monitor how Covid-19 is or will be affecting our operations and our neighboring communities. We are glad that, so far, our local communities have followed local and national government directives to keep safe. There are no reported positive Covid-19 cases so far in these areas. We remain optimistic and look forward to an easing and the eventual suspension of the lockdowns, keeping aware that the new normal of staying safe will mean maintaining high standards of hygiene and avoiding unnecessary meetings.