Nigeria has the world's largest electricity deficit with around 45% of the population (90 million people) living without reliable access to power. Reliable electricity has a direct impact on healthcare delivery and overall public health. Many medical devices and equipment require stable power, vaccines can be compromised without proper temperature control, and diagnostic services require uninterrupted power to ensure the tools provide accurate results. Getting an accurate database on which health facilities have access to electricity is not straightforward. Generators are used for primary or backup power, solar panels supplement existing power, and existing infrastructure is often intermittent.
As a capacity-building effort to better understand power access to health care facilities in Nigeria, the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria (FUTA) and YouthMappers brought together 75 students from eight universities across the county during the Fall of 2023 for a workshop to validate the official healthcare facility data registry and incorporate electrification status. During the workshop, students were taught a suite of openly available, map-based, data collection tools including Mapillary, OpenStreetMap, and KoboCollect to conduct field surveys throughout the city.
Students were divided into teams, loaded into vans, and worked meticulously through the existing list of health facilities navigating the streets of Akure with a mix of local knowledge and OpenStreetMap. Not all facility locations were accurate, some had bad coordinates, others had moved locations, and some were never found. Once a facility was located, students interviewed staff, walking them through questions on the survey. They verified the name, electrification status, and took photos of existing infrastructure. Initial results indicate about 10% of the facilities do not have grid-generated electricity. Several places had rooftop solar panels to power lighting, but had limited storage options to run equipment and refrigeration.
YouthMappers conducting a field survey with health care staff.
Teams documented their work by capturing street-level imagery along the way. They used Mapillary’s computer vision tools to automatically extract power poles providing initial information on the extent of the existing grid. The challenge was that not all of the visible infrastructure was functional. Several facilities had a power line from the pole connected to the building that had not been operational in years.
Power poles identified by Mapillary computer vision outputs.
Access to facilities was also difficult due to the poor condition of roadways. In cases where the van could no longer pass, students hailed a ride from passing motorcycles, or headed on foot capturing Mapillary imagery and conducting surveys along the way. Teams used street-level imagery to update roadway conditions and surface type in OpenStreetMap with the understanding that, in an emergency, many facilities are not accessible in a four wheeled vehicle.
Rural road barely accessible by van captured on Mapillary.
Motorcycle Ambulance designed to operate on rough roads and inaccessible locations.
Upon conclusion of the workshop students traveled home, where they will continue improving data on health care facilities. While a great deal of data was collected during this week, the most valuable aspect of this project was the opportunity for YouthMappers chapter leaders from across the country to establish relationships. They learned together, worked together, and made valuable contributions to improve health care facility access across the country.
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