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Majority of women in Sudan rely on midwives during and after pregnancy. Their critical role goes beyond delivering babies. They also provide antenatal and postnatal care, counseling and psychological support and offer essential health messages to help mothers and their families raise healthy children. 

The lack of electricity in rural areas, displacement settings and refugee camps poses a barrier to the work and mobility of the midwives. In such settings, the needs of women, especially pregnant women, increase as provision of health services is interrupted.

“We frequently had to hold a mobile flashlight steady in our mouths to support women giving birth at night. It was especially challenging when the woman would experience birth complications and we would have only seconds to act quickly and efficiently to save her life and that of her child.” Midwife Awatef, West Darfur.

In line with UNFPA’s strategic priorities in ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths, UNFPA teams in West, North and South Darfur, North Kordofan, Blue Nile and Gedaref distributed over 1,000 solar-powered lanterns in April 2022 donated by the Signify Foundation; to assist community midwives carry out their work in villages which experience frequent power cuts. With these solar-powered lanterns, UNFPA aims to improve the mobility of midwives during the night and to ensure women in rural areas experience safe child births.

“When there is no electricity, we carry women in labor during the night out of their tents, lighting a fire in an open space so we can operate.” Midwife Hawa, West Darfur.

“The open space delivery theater exposes women to the risk of infections. These solar-powered lanterns are a great tool to save the lives of women and girls, especially in rural areas and humanitarian settings, and maintain their dignity.” Mr. Mohamed Lemine, UNFPA Representative in Sudan.

“The solar lights are proving very important in our efforts to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity.” Midwife Khadija, Blue Nile.

In October 2020, UNFPA Sudan and the Signify Foundation signed a donation agreement for the distribution of 5,000 portable solar-powered lanterns across Sudan. 3,500 of them are allocated to aid the work of midwives in underserved communities and humanitarian settings. In parallel, 1,500 solar lights will be distributed to women heads of households and ‘Women and Girls Safe Spaces’ in displacement and refugee settings to strengthen efforts towards the prevention of gender-based violence and facilitate access to essential and life-saving services in humanitarian settings.