First of all, my heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one, had serious injury or had their homes lost or damaged by the recent Christchurch earthquake. It can't be an easy time to get through.
Nothing is permanent. I'm a great believer that the time you enter this world and the time you leave this world is pre-defined; so there is not a lot you can do to change it. We have to learn how to make the best out of the little time we got in-between these two events.
While there is a lot of havoc and mayhem that happens as a result of a natural disaster, they also provide a vast number of opportunities for innovation. Watching the news clips and documentaries over the last 10 days about the severe shortage of Toilet facilities made me think of the following need.
At the moment, what we have is either a permanent toilet (inside a building or public place) or a Port-a-Loo.
The Port-a-Loo is not the ideal solution for a situation like Christchurch; since it is designed for a different purpose where the requirement is short-term (ie days) & low-usage rather than medium-term (ie weeks or months) with heavy usage.
Rather than just importing Port-a-Loo's from China, we shoud use this opportunity to do some lateral thinking to find a better solution.
I would like to start an Innovation Challange to re-design a semi-permanent toilet to meet the constraints and demands of a Natural Disaster situation. It must be low-cost, can be assembled by the community using basic material & tools, can be plugged into the underground services (where available) etc.
If you know of anyone who will be keen to help develop this idea further, then I would love to hear from them ASAP. This could be a great Social Innovation project not only for Christchurch, but for any other city around the world that could face a similar situation.