Peace Corps Volunteer Allegra Panetto of Haworth, N.J., is working with a local health center in the eastern part of Malawi to power electricity in several of the health center’s rooms using solar energy. A portion of the funds for the project were raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) that helps fund Peace Corps Volunteer community projects worldwide.

"Each month, more than 60 infants are delivered at the health center. Half of these infants are delivered in the middle of the night, and because it only has lights in the labor ward and out-patient room, mothers’ pre-and post-delivery must wait in a room without electricity,” said Panetto, a Columbia University graduate. “Installing solar energy at the health center will better the lives of both the patients and staff.”

The health center serves more than 17,000 people in 35 villages near the shores of Lake Malawi. Prior to installing the solar panels in the health clinic, the staff will renovate the in-patient room and staff housing to prepare for the installation. In 2009, solar electricity was already installed in the out-patient room and labor ward.

"The sun’s power is the sustaining forces behind this project,” said Panetto, who has been working as a health Volunteer in Malawi since July 2010. “The area is a very hot and sunny, even during rainy season. The acquisition of electricity to the in-patient dorm will increase the capacity of patient attendants, nurses, and family members to care for patients – expectant or new mothers, or those suffering from life-threatening diseases.”

In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability.

Malawi Africa Peace Corps Partnership Program health solar energy babies maternal health infant health sustainable energy sustainability Peace Corps Peace Corps Volunteer host country nationals


I had incredible experiences with mothers. I saw a delivery in the crowded district hospital and after, an episiotomy repair. I also visited a traditional birth attendant home, arriving just after two women had delivered the most beautiful and perfect babies. When I left Malawi, I felt inspired and proud of my impact and the footprint I hoped I had left behind. - Peace Corps Response Volunteer Lauren Goodwin

According to figures released by UNICEF, a Malawian woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36; compare that to America’s 1 in 2,100 and Norway’s 1 in 7,600. High maternal mortality in Malawi is due in part to the fact that only 54 percent of deliveries have a skilled medical professional present. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) fill the gap in rural, resource-deprived areas where maternal health facilities are not accessible.
Learn more about how Lauren is trying to make “1 in 36” a thing of the past: Because 1 in 36 Is Too Much

I had incredible experiences with mothers. I saw a delivery in the crowded district hospital and after, an episiotomy repair. I also visited a traditional birth attendant home, arriving just after two women had delivered the most beautiful and perfect babies. When I left Malawi, I felt inspired and proud of my impact and the footprint I hoped I had left behind. - Peace Corps Response Volunteer Lauren Goodwin

According to figures released by UNICEF, a Malawian woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36; compare that to America’s 1 in 2,100 and Norway’s 1 in 7,600. High maternal mortality in Malawi is due in part to the fact that only 54 percent of deliveries have a skilled medical professional present. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) fill the gap in rural, resource-deprived areas where maternal health facilities are not accessible.

Learn more about how Lauren is trying to make “1 in 36” a thing of the past: Because 1 in 36 Is Too Much

Peace Corps Peace Corps Response Peace Corps Volunteer maternal health Malawi Africa childbirth traditional birth attendants maternal mortality medicine Current Countries