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Vulnerable communities across sub-Saharan Africa are witnessing an increase in extreme weather events, shifting patterns of rainfall and rising sea levels because of climate change.  

Heavy rainfall and flooding have recently ravaged communities in Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar and Zambia, causing a wave of devastation and widespread power cuts which have heaped pressure on healthcare facilities.  

Climate adaptation funding can provide off-grid energy access to remote communities affected by these climate impacts and help keep the lights on when the power fails.  

Lab technician Marianne Mwale works in a rural health clinic in Zambia, where power cuts have affected the staff’s ability to serve the local community. Power Up coalition partner SolarAid has provided solar products that keep services open. 

“We were having challenges with lighting because mostly when it is the rainy season, we have these consecutive power cuts, so it was a challenge for us to work after dark without light. You can’t do anything. You need light to examine your patients, and to run lab tests you need light. You can’t do even the simplest things without light,” explained Marianne. 

“For nurses on night duty, especially when women go into labour, or needed stiches, without lighting we were forced to use phone torches, but that light was not enough.  

“Now, with the solar light, if there is no power and the clinicians need a test to be run in the lab, I’m able to do that no matter the time. I’ll have light there, and they’ll get their result, and the patient will be helped as quickly as possible. 

“The turnaround time for the results have reduced, in the sense that if they order for a test in the nighttime, I will be called in instead of work piling up in the morning waiting for the sunlight,” she added. 

Climate change is creating and increasing health risks across Africa – but 60% of African health facilities still go without electricity. The UN reports that warmer temperatures and higher rainfall increase the risk of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever, and scientists have predicted that if emissions continue to increase, heat-related deaths of children under five in Africa could double by 2050. 

The Power Up coalition is campaigning for increased energy access funding to be put at the heart of adaptation plans in Africa to support the frontline organisations, such as SolarAid, delivering clean, off-grid energy access. 

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