Red Tape! Bureaucracy! Inefficiency!
STORY BY Matthias Resch
Published: September 28, 2013
Haiti was once lush and green from the north to the south, to the east and to the west, but now only 1 percent of all natural forest remains. Like in many a country where people lack access to safe and reliable energy, they know no other way than to cut and burn tress for their everyday energy needs. Three quarters of that energy is used for cooking food; millions of meals equals million of trees. It is not only Mother Nature that is harmed, but also cooking with firewood or poorly made wood-charcoal kills around 4 million people globally every year, mostly women and children.
There is a group of volunteers however making strides to protect both the health of nature and her inhabitants: Community Development International (CDi). In Haiti CDi is assisting an aspiring social enterprise called Konpay with its alternative fuels and clean cook stove initiative. CDi and partners are striving to provide energy alternatives at a grassroots level that are less detrimental to human and environmental health and more efficient and economical to burn. Best of all these alternatives are made locally, with local resources and local talent.
CDi’s aid and development approach in Haiti is positive and unique. Traditional organizations’ approach often corrupts and creates dependency as they do not include local people nor utilize local goods or services. Too often red tape, bureaucracy, and inefficiencies are what remain from Western organizations that have good intentions, but not efficient solutions. In fact, 90 cents on the dollar is normally recycled back to donor countries. Now who does this help and how?
In the States, CDi teamed up with New Earth Farm (an organic farm in Virginia Beach), where the group is currently hosting Haitian agronomy student, Guypson Catalis, as the first participant in its International Farmer Exchange Program. For several weeks they were joined by Joe Duplan, founder of Konpay and a pioneer in the alternative fuel and clean cook stoves field in Haiti, to build “an improved clean outdoor stove” and a biochar production line on site at the farm. These serve as demonstration and advocacy projects, and making briquette fuel from biochar is a cleaner cooking method that does not require any trees to be cut, it lowers CO2 emissions, the air is cleaner to breath, and in Haiti the coalition trains locals and uses local recourses.
As an alternative to conventional charcoal or chabon, as it is called in Haiti, the briquettes are made of abundantly available biomass such as coconut husks, mango and avocado pits. In Virginia Beach on the Organic Educational Farm, biochar briquettes are made of untreated scrap-wood, the same materials used for trellises, to produce organic and sustainable locally made briquettes. In an effort to assist Konpay, CDi has built this outdoor stove and oven, a retort capable of carbonizing 500 pounds of biomass at once, and a briquette press capable of producing 15,000 briquettes a month. What biochar is not pressed into briquettes can be used as a carbon-sequestering organic fertilizer and soil enhancer. Sales of biochar and briquettes will generate revenue with which to support Konpay’s operations and scaling in Haiti.
Besides helping to mitigate deforestation, global warming, and loss of lives, CDi’s and Konpay’s approach of using local talent, local products, and connecting communities to work and learn from each other creates a sustainable and independent development that empowers Haitians to continue on a more sustainable and healthy path while being included in the process and value chain.
CDi has entered a contest that will enable the organization to launch its social biochar enterprise in support of sustainable development projects in Haiti. It ends this coming Monday, September 30th. Just by viewing their video linked below, they have a chance at earning $10,000. Please watch this 30 second video and circulate the link to others for support http://youtu.be/i8hhJZvNq2o. Thank you for helping them to continue their mission to provide a healthier environment for improved socio-economic conditions for people in Haiti.
30 second contest link http://youtu.be/i8hhJZvNq2o
4 minute version for more background: www.cd-international.org/biochar_video.html
Video and article from Kentucky Visit: http://news.ca.uky.edu/article/biochar-could-offer-solutions-haiti
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