Network for the Environment and Social (Human) Security

Haiti and the TOTEM System

Posted by on Nov 19, 2010 in Sustainability | 4 comments

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The Caribbeans are supposed to be an idyllic archipelago west of Central America. Except it is in the way of Hurricanes, under which the people suffer season after season.

In January of this year Haiti was hit by a terrible Earthquake. An estimated 230.000 people died and 300.000 were injured. About 1.000.000 people became homeless.

Not enough with this, in February the flood came and worsened the already tense situation.

Although the world reacted quite fast and came to help, something went wrong.

Now, almost at the end of the year, Haiti is struck by a Cholera outbreak, killing more than 1.000 people and hospitalizing thousands more. The outbreak slowly becomes a epidemic, which swept already into the Dominican Republic and has reached the Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince.

How could this happen? Was the help of provided not sufficient? Or is the help provided only fit for one purpose? Like help after an earthquake and when the same area is shortly thereafter hit by a flood the help is suddenly not sufficient anymore.

I have not been to Haiti and I can only guess that something was wrong the way the crisis was handled. Otherwise the Cholera would be no problem.

Cholera is a waterborne disease with a short incubation time of several days and is lethal if not treated properly. The disease is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and is primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and proper sanitation.

In other words it means, that the Sanitation provided by the international community after such a disaster is not sufficient. And we have to ask, whether it is so because the concept of sanitation is wrong. If the conventional infrastructure is imposed on a devastated area then it does not really help. As can be seen by the Cholera outbreak. Would the TOTEM System, as decentralized units, be much more sufficient compared to the present centralized system?

After the relief forces leave the affected area the TOTEM Systems should remain and help the population to build up again a normal life in a Sustainable surrounding. A lean TOTEM System with only Bio-Gas, Steam Turbine and Water Mills could be developed for emergency areas and would provide energy, good sanitation and pure drink water!

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