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Project Details

Nepal midewife with baby

Solar Suitcase

Solar power in a suitcase

By We Care Solar

Project URL: wecaresolar.org
Project Twitter: @wecaresolar

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  • Health
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  • Physical Computing

Official figures on maternal mortality are staggering. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women die in childbirth every day, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Almost all of these deaths occur in low-resource settings, and most are preventable.

When Dr Laura Stachel visited Nigeria to study maternal mortality there, it became clear to her that lack of electricity was a huge part of the problem. Women giving birth at night were particularly at risk, with midwives performing deliveries by candlelight.

Laura teamed up with her husband Hal Aronson, an expert in solar energy, and together they came up with the We Care Solar Suitcase.

The Suitcase is an economical, easy-to-use portable power unit that provides health workers with highly efficient medical lighting and power for mobile communication, laptops and small medical devices. The basic system comes with solar panels and a battery which lasts two years. For clinic installations, the yellow case becomes a cabinet that mounts to the wall, and the panels are secured to the roof.

We Care Solar Suitcases were initially installed in maternity clinics in Nigeria, before the word spread to midwives worldwide. UNICEF stepped in to help, donating 53 suitcases to clinics in Karamoja, Uganda, where one hospital has since seen deliveries increase from 20 to 50 per month. Now, over 1,000 Solar Suitcases have been assembled and sent to 25 countries around the world.

Originally designed to support emergency obstetric care, the We Care Solar Suitcase can be used in a range of medical and humanitarian settings. They were recently deployed after the Nepal earthquake in April 2015, and assisted in the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Visit wecaresolar.org to donate a suitcase to a medical centre in need.

Image 'Washing, Madagascar' courtesy of Rod Waddington.

Last updated: 13th of August, 2015

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