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Hospitals and clinics across the country have reinforced their security following a spate of vandalism of solar panel installations by thieves.
The thieves are targeting mainly solar panels, inverters, gel and lithium batteries that were installed at health centres in both urban and rural areas.
Health Times reported that the solar panel systems were installed across 1 045 health facilities in Zimbabwe through a Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Solar for Health project and is supported by the UNDP-Global Fund initiative.
The solar systems are 5kW, 7kW, 10kW or 40kW, depending on the size of the facility and energy requirements to power specific functions.
Bulawayo City Health Department Director Edwin Sibanda said that they have tried to improve the security and lighting around some of these installations to reduce incidents of vandalism. He said:
_Most of our clinics have got solar services that is, a solar plant or solar power as backup.
Unfortunately for us, some of these solar power installations have not been spared by vandals and thieves and other people that have wrong and selfish intentions because some panels and batteries were stolen and thanks to our partners, some have been replaced._
Matebeleland South Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Andrew Muza said:
_We have been working quite well with other stakeholders to protect the equipment. We are working with community members, the police and security sector to help us to be able to contain the situation.
We are retraining and reorienting security guards that are on the Ministry of Health side to deal with these cases of vandalism as well._
The Provincial Medical Director for Masvingo, Amadeus Shamu, said:
_We have told the institutions to secure those installations. Most of them have managed to fence them and we also have the community coming where we don’t have security guards, we have communities guarding the institutions.
In this province, we have not recorded any cases of vandalism of solar equipment._
Emmanuel Boadi, the UNDP Programme Manager, Global Fund said that there have been challenges of vandalism and theft of the components of the system.
He added that the UNDP-Global Fund project was working with stakeholders to ensure that the solar project continues into the future.