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Prosperity & Planet via Solar & Mobile Battery Power at the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Center for Health (BJSH), Cotes-de-Fer (CdF), Haiti

CMMB will build a solar and community mobile battery system that will transform the health, livelihoods, prosperity, and environment in CdF.

Photo of Christopher null
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The impoverished, remote community of Cotes-de-Fer in southeast Haiti suffers from many serious problems, particularly with respect to energy, which handicaps its well-being. Roughly 75% of Haiti’s population is off the electrical grid, and even those who are connected have electricity for only a few hours per day. Haiti is short of energy resources, with virtually no naturally occurring fossil fuel reserves and few hydroelectric resources. Most Cotes-de-Fer residents do not have electricity in their homes, and the Center is completely dependent on a well-worn, diesel-fueled electrical generator, for which fuel and spare parts are expensive to buy and difficult to transport (given the generally poor road system). These sources of electricity are nonrenewable and dirty, in a country that already faces daunting environmental degradation issues. This combination of factors has stunted Cotes-de-Fer’s human and economic development, and can even mean the difference between life and death, particularly for patients undergoing surgery or in intensive care, and for storage of perishable medical commodities.

In response, CMMB will build a solar and mobile battery system. It will provide electricity to the BJSH via direct connection, and use portable battery packs that will be rented at a fair rate to the broader community. The packs will be dispatched to key sites in CdF to provide electricity to residents; CMMB is investigating the possibility of creating microgrids to connect these sites to surrounding houses and businesses. This cutting-edge, efficient, emission-free approach will meet the BJSH’s and community’s needs for a reliable, clean source of electricity, create employment opportunities (in constructing and maintaining the system), as well as electrical oases for residents and businesses (the latter would be among the system’s main customers); improve CdF’s quality of life; and promote a more harmonious, cohesive community.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The target population will include the over 135,000 people in the BJSH catchment area; the initial focus will be on 10 local businesses and the roughly 51,000 inhabitants of the immediate vicinity of Cotes-de-Fer, which is just over 1 mile away from the BJSH. Currently, besides the electrical facilities at the Hospital, there are only four small generators in the Cotes-de-Fer area, each of which produce less than 6 Kilowatts (KW). Moreover, the new system (which will provide at least 100 KW to the BJSH and 100 KW for the community-at large) will also help the local government offices (notably the mayor’s office, water department [DINEPA] office, national identification office, and local court, among many others); the Catholic Church of St. Joseph; local health facilities such as Gris Gris; and small personal businesses along the main road.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Through this replicable approach, CMMB will create a nexus between (1) a solar power system and (2) portable, rechargeable, industrial grade, lithium ion-based battery packs, with the prospect of a longer-term connection to local micro-electrical grids. The packs can be used to power a wide range of devices, and offer great operational flexibility. New jobs will be created in constructing and maintaining the system. Moreover, the system will be based at the BJSH, a secure location that was built as the hub of CMMB’s overarching Children And Mothers Partnerships (CHAMPS) initiative to target mortality and morbidity among women and children; CMMB’s programs (including economic empowerment) have earned the community’s deep trust and cooperation. Thus, CMMB will create building blocks for a full-blown, sustainable, emission-free electrical power system in CdF that will propel prosperity and safeguard the environment and, ultimately, the planet.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

With over 106 years of experience, CMMB is an international, faith-based nongovernmental organization that prioritizes nimble and innovative approaches utilizing partnerships towards sustainable and transformative solutions to health and development globally. See http://www.cmmb.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

CMMB proudly launched the BJSH over a year ago, in cooperation with its many partners, in a profoundly underserved yet beautiful area, the future of which, in a very real sense, depends on a degree of socioeconomic prosperity, as well as protection and preservation of natural resources. These factors, in turn, motivated CMMB to conceptualize a cutting-edge and transformative solution that directly addresses needs with respect to economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Without power, there is no progress, no health, no prosperity, and ultimately, only perennial degradation of the environ. Sadly, Haiti is the poorest and among the most polluted countries in the Western Hemisphere. Particularly in Cotes-de-Fer, Planet has been impacted by a lack of clean energy sources, which has forced the extensive use of diesel-fueled electrical generators; these are very expensive to operate (in part because fuel is only available at high prices and difficult to transport to the area) and maintain (as parts are hard to come by locally), as well as environmentally damaging (due to poisonous emissions). Prosperity has been severely impacted by a lack of infrastructure and erratic electricity supplies, and by staggering public health problems.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

In addition to direct engagement with local community members, CMMB continues to work closely with a variety of local and international partners to support the Center and help Cotes-de-Fer residents. The list of partners includes Mercy Health, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, the Mary Cross Tippmann Foundation, the Mushett Family Foundation, the Joseph Rauenhorst Family Foundation, among many others.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

CdF is a resort-worthy part of Haiti’s beautiful south coast, with abundant exposure to the sun. BJSH’s relative proximity to an existing grid could expedite transfer of energy to the wider community. CMMB has deep relationships with local administration and enterprises. CdF is full of entrepreneurial people who have survived many challenges (such as the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew) and shown great willingness to collaborate with CMMB, including donating land for the BJSH.

Geographic Focus

Cotes-de-Fer, Sud-Est Department, southeastern Haiti

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

CMMB plans to implement Phase I of the solar power system within one year. This would include installing the solar panels and wiring at the BJSH, as well as procuring, shipping, and activating the portable battery units for use by residents and, most importantly, local businesses. CMMB hopes to begin implementation of Phase II, which would include building microgrids to provide direct electrical connections to the community at large, within a year afterwards.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Sophie Lyman
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Hello Christopher, great initiative. Lack of access to electricity is a big problem in Haiti, and it's unfortunate that you have to resort to inefficient, expensive diesel-fueled generator. Our consortium will also be working in Cotes-de-Fer. Specifically, one of consortium members, Konbit pou Developman Communte Kotes-de-Fer (KDCK) has already introduced biogas digesters and Solavore solar ovens in the area. It is possible to run generators off of biogas from organic waste materials. For example, the hospital you mentioned could safely dispose of hazardous organic waste by feeding it into a biodigester. Biodigesters can also be attached to toilets to collect human waste. Have you considered this option? KDCK, and the BioScience/medical University of Notre Dame d'Haiti in Hinche will be our main partner exploring these options through a human-centered design approach. Perhaps we could work together. Check out our proposal at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/energizing-haiti-through-the-local-manufacturing-and-sale-of-solar-and-biogas-stoves-and-biodigesters-for-peace-prosperity-and-the-planet

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