40 Clinics in 10 days – can we do it?
Now that the Ministry of Health maintenance team technicians are trained and the solar suitcases from We Care Solar are in the country, the next step is the installation. Working with the list of clinics we have supplied solar power to, and working through all the remaining clinics that need power, maintenance team leader Modou Saidou Sowe put together the list of sites for installations over the next two weeks. With 8 technicians, 3 drivers, 3 trucks, 40 solar suitcases and 40 clinics spread out in 5 regions, organizing a strong work plan is important. Power Up Gambia intern Ari Bortman will be traveling with the installation teams. He wrote about the first day of the project:
“ Today (Monday) we were supposed to have a big team meeting at the Ministry of Health, where Lynn would give all the workers the per diem stipends for going out to work on the road, and the ministry money for fuel, we would break up into our two teams, and discuss the logistics of the routes we would take. Then the plan was to get on a morning ferry over to the north bank on Tuesday, hopefully get four full installations done because there are some close-together clinics at the start of the route, and have a nice strong start. When we got to the ministry today, however, the team was not there. Because one of the trucks was still having maintenance done, Modou who is the guy in charge of the project on the ministry’s end, decided to push the meeting to tomorrow and just have us take the really early morning ferry on Wednesday. Which leaves at 6 AM. Which means people have to be there at 5:30 ish. So Lynn and I are not optimistic about this 6 AM ferry crossing on Wednesday.
So: The following day we had our full team meeting at the ministry, so we divvied up all the necessary funds for each worker’s per diem stipend for food, accommodations, and for going away on essentially a business trip, the funds for fuel, and the tolls for the ferries we have to take (there are no bridges across the Gambia river). Since the largest demonization of currency in Gambian Dalasi is equal to about US $4.50, we gave out a stack of money about a foot and a quarter tall!”
The work plan is this – one truck will take all the solar suitcases and drop them off at the 5 regional health offices. That will take him about 2 days to do. Then, the two installation teams will start out with 3 solar suitcases each, cross to the North Bank West region on the ferry between Banjul and Barra, and then start working our way east, installing solar suitcases in the clinics all along the north bank of the Gambia River until we get to the end of the country. Then, we will cross over the River and make our way back west, installing more solar suitcases in more clinics until we get back to our starting point! We have 10 days scheduled for the trip, and then at the end we will see if any more time is needed to finish the task. Installing the solar suitcases and training the staff doesn’t take a whole lot of time. These units are very easy to install and We Care Solar already has a full training program laid out for training the health staff in how to use them. The bulk of time is just in travel. Although The Gambia is a small country, many of the clinics are on dirt roads that can be super slow to travel – especially just after the rainy season. So hopefully each team will be able to do 2 installations a day. But we will see… with some clinics far apart and with bad roads after the summer rains, we will just have to do the best we can.