Today, 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity and an additional 1 billion are underserved, meaning they have an unstable connection, experience frequent outages or are unable to pay for electricity services beyond their connection (IEA 2014). There is universal agreement that improving electrification rates is essential for multiple reasons, including advancing human development, economic productivity, and improving health and well-being.
In Tanzania, the lack of electricity and the threat of unreliable and inadequate electricity supply threatens economic development, livelihoods, and well-being . National electrification rates do not surpass 25%, and electrification does not even hit 5% in rural areas. Unreliable power in Tanzania hampers the ability of clinics and health care providers to provide the essential services they are meant to provide. Hospitals and clinics located near an electricity grid connection have traditionally relied on grid power as a primary energy source. Yet power failures or outages during periods of peak electricity demand are a problem even in grid-connected cities and regions. This forces clinics to rely on expensive backup generators – or to remain without power. In off-grid settings, stand-alone diesel-powered generators and solar home systems (SHS) have been the most common solution to providing reliable power in clinics, backed up mostly by kerosene lamps, candles or flashlights. Generators, however, are expensive to operate due to the increasingly high cost of fuel and its transport and storage.
Despite their pervasiveness, quality and reliability issues are not captured in traditional access indicators. This means that the severity of the energy access challenge and its implications on human development and economic productivity are misrepresented. Furthermore, there is no independent source of data with which the government or citizens can monitor service quality or hold decision makers and utilities accountable for their decisions and performance.
Through this project, we will collect and monitor data on electricity service quality delivered to clinics in Tanzania. The data will be collected using Electricity Supply Monitor (ESM) which is a plug-in device that integrates a voltage recorder and a data-logger and can be easily installed at any remote location without the services of an electrician. The ESM records voltage by the minute at its location and sends the data to a central server using GPRS, which is made available on this website. Electricity Data collected under this project on electricity will help inform and further develop our understanding on the key role electricity plays in more on the key role in the delivery of health services. Additionally, it will inform the current situation regarding as well as personnel distribution and offer recommendations on how to improve it. This is based on the assumption that facilities which have access to electricity may be better positioned to attract and retain skilled health workers, especially in rural areas.
“Electricity Supply Monitoring Initiative (ESMI) is an initiative conceptualised, developed and implemented in India by Prayas (Energy Group), Pune, India. It was publically launched in March 2015 in India and currently covers several hundred locations across India. Visit www.watchyourpower.org or www.prayaspune.org/peg for more information.”