Solar water heaters to help improve healthcare in rural South Africa

solar geysersThe Qunu clinic in the Eastern Cape has been supplied with two solar water heating (SWH) systems, through the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa’s (Sessa’s) Sunwater for Life initiative.

The installation at the Qunu clinic was funded by Absa Insurance Company, and allows the clinic to better serve the almost 1 000 people who receive treatment there on a monthly basis.

Health facilities need a reliable supply of hot water, necessitated by hygiene considerations, and for this, a constant and reliable supply of energy is needed. But, like many rural areas across South Africa, Qunu experiences a scarcity of energy. Currently, the clinic tries to meet its energy needs, including the supply of hot water, with electricity vouchers.

“We are pleased that we could assist in improving the health care of the community in Qunu. The installation of solar heating systems at Qunu clinic has two basic benefits. It will greatly improve the quality of care for the people in Qunu while ensuring that our environment is preserved,” says Absa Insurance Company managing executive Edwyn O’Neill.

Sessa ambassador Irvan Damon says that the Sunwater for Life initiative has a number of aims including promoting growth in the green sector and helping create green collar jobs, showcasing the reliability and independence of green technology, contributing to economic stability though an improved energy mix, assisting with the upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities and helping avoid local environmental degradation.

“We appreciate Absa’s involvement with Sunwater for Life, and look forward to seeing the fruits of their investment in Qunu,” Damon says.

Qunu is a small rural village in South Africa, best known as the place where former President Nelson Mandela grew up.

The Energy Department and petrochemicals giant Sasol teamed up earlier in 2011 to establish an integrated energy centre in Qunu, with a petrol station doubling as a community centre.

Damon notes that Sasol has also assisted the clinic by sponsoring the plumbing needed to ensure security of water supply at the clinic.’

Source: Engineering News (Christy van der Merwe)

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