VidaGás: Powering health clinics and households in Mozambique with liquefied petroleum gas

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Publication Date: 
01 September 2007
Courtenay Sprague
UN Millennium Development Goal: 
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

In a country with 500 doctors for a population of almost 20 million, initiatives that can expand the reach of health services to rural populations are in critical demand and short supply. The challenge for northern Mozambique’s health clinics is the lack of reliable fuel to provide lighting for surgery and routine operations and to guarantee regular refrigeration for the storage of vaccines. Besides, less than two percent of households have electricity, and are therefore dependent on wood or charcoal for cooking, which increases respiratory infections, pregnancy complications and forests degradation.

Against this background, a wide range of partners gathered in 2002 to launch a pilot project in the province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, each one providing its own expertise: a former minister of education from Mozambique, Graça Machel, dedicated to children’s health; a Seattle-based NGO, VillageReach, dedicated to deliver needed health supplies to remote regions of Mozambique; Northern philanthropists willing to back the start-up; the Ministry of Health and the Governor of the pilot province, eager to provide state funding and eliminate state bureaucracy; and a community foundation, FDC (Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade), aware of the complex development needs of Mozambicans.

As a result of the partnership, VillageReach and FDC introduced an improved cold chain and replaced decrepit kerosene refrigerators in remote health facilities with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)-powered refrigerators. The focus of this case is on the supply of LPG to businesses and households by VidaGás, a for-profit company that is owned and controlled by the two NGOs, and who is now trying to develop a viable business model.

Citation: Sprague, Courtenay. "VidaGás: Powering Health Clinics and Households in Mozambique with Liquefied Petroleum Gas." GIM Case Study No. A050. New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2008