Christian Long

Cat Laine: Engineering a Better Life for All

In TED Talks on May 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Reflection by BRENDON O.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Cat Laine: Engineering a Better Life for All

Note:  no available video to embed; go to the above link to watch the video.


Cat Laine gives an inspirational speech on how we can help undeveloped countries and the poor achieve a higher standard of living by creating local businesses that utilize local labor and produce products for local use.

This is a wonderful idea that would allow these countries and communities self-support themselves and allows for their growth.

Although who is Cat Laine?

She was doing her graduate work on infectious disease epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health until she saw Haiti and other underdeveloped countries with high levels of poverty. Now, she works for AIDG (Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group) which helps start businesses in order to improve local conditions.

When she was working on her graduate degree, she went to Haiti and was appalled by the huge gap in the standard of living. She saw a cruise ship landing on shore and only three miles away there was a village living in poverty. The Haitian government receives money from the cruise for the right to land on shore. Part of that money is supposed to go to the village to make proper improvements, but the money never reaches the village, causing them to have to continue living in poverty.

She believes that she can help these villages by providing them with sufficient infrastructure and local businesses that produce local products using local labor. This allows them to be independent and provide their needs for themselves affordably within their own economy.

She mentions several examples throughout Haiti and Guatemala.

In one example, one of her colleagues built a generator for a village that allows seventy cell phones to be charged. They aren’t always able to charge them because sometimes they go weeks or months without power. Their power grid does not always function properly, causing the village to be left powerless. This is not an ideal condition for growth. This invention allows them to charge their phones in their own village, as opposed to having to drive an hour to charge them.

Another colleague of hers built a device that harnesses wind power without using a turbine. This device is smaller, more efficient, and can provide more power for the village than a turbine ever could. This, yet again, allows them to develop and grow, alleviating a small portion of their impoverished conditions.

Cat Laine is a brilliant person and her vision is a wonderful idea that could change the world.


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