Completed Research

Bringing Light to Health Care: Lessons from the UNDP Solar for Health Program in Zimbabwe

University of Toronto

The World Health Organization reports that one in four health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have little to no access to electricity, and only 30 per cent of health facilities reported having reliable access to electricity.  To address this issue, the UNDP started the Solar for Health Initiative in 2015, starting with their pilot in Zimbabwe. The Solar for Health project aims to establish dependable electricity access for off-the-grid healthcare centers infrastructure – including clinics, labs, hospitals etc. – through solar panel installations.

The Hard to Reach

Communities in Zimbabwe lacking reliable electricity in health care facilities.

Key Takeaways

Solar for Health’s success ultimately lies in the dedicated engagement of development institutions such as the UNDP and Global Fund, working in coordination with local public and private actors. While public and private collaboration and coordination remained central to S4H’s success, there were several key program innovations that contributed including:


This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. We express our gratitude and appreciation to the Consumer Feedback Consultancy for their support with our research efforts. We are also grateful to those we met and interviewed for sharing their insights and passions with us.

This research was vetted and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto. Research was conducted remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.