Doctors at the Bernard Mevs trauma hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti once faced power outages while in the middle of surgery. They would scramble in the dark to keep the patient alive while they waited for their backup diesel generators to turn on. Those extra minutes could make the difference between life and death.
Now things are different. In 2013, NRG Energy installed a 100-kilowatt solar array and battery storage system at Bernard Mevs with support from the Clinton Foundation and contributions from leading solar technology manufacturers SMA, Unirac, Trina and Sunora Energy. Today, the hospital has reliable power around the clock.
A new mini-documentary called “Empowering Haiti” — produced by GTM's Julia Pyper with support from the Ptarmigan Foundation — looks at how clean energy is providing many benefits to the country.
“It’s empowerment,” said Carolina Sada, entrepreneur and founder of Institution Mixte Union des Apotres, a school in the seaside slum of Cité Soleil.
Ratification of the Paris climate agreement marks a landmark global commitment to reducing carbon emissions. In the coming days, decision-makers from around the world will meet at the COP22 climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco to discuss the shift from setting goals to taking action. Governments are expected to mobilize billions of dollars to meet their climate action plans. The challenge for world leaders will be integrating climate change into a broader set of national priorities, such as economic growth, poverty reduction, healthcare and security. Experiences in Haiti show that there are ways to meet several of these aims at the same time.
It’s also a particularly important time to think about sustainable development in Haiti. On October 4, Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of the country, killing hundreds and leaving 1.4 million people in need of aid. There’s still an urgent demand for emergency response. But as Haiti begins to rebuild, there’s a broader discussion to be had about how to rebuild the country better — in a more environmentally and economically sustainable way.
“Empowering Haiti” seeks to spur that conversation.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, please consider donating to Sigora International’s hurricane relief campaign to provide clean water, roofing and seeds to the people of Haiti.