by Sebastian Africano, International Director
Chico and Florida are happy to have a safer and healthier home with their new clean
In every country where Trees, Water & People (TWP) builds clean cookstoves, we train local citizens in the design and construction of the stoves. These dedicated individuals work with community members throughout the entire process to create stoves that meet their specific cooking needs. In addition, stoves are built using local materials. Families invest in the stove by providing a portion of the materials needed as well as investing time in helping to construct the stoves.
Imagine: more than 63,000 cookstoves built to date, all designed and constructed by local citizens! This accomplishment gets at the core of TWP’s mission and vision – an emphasis on community-based natural resource management that benefits both people and the planet. Our projects are not successful unless local people are involved each step of the way.
Inspecting Chico’s cookstove and happy to see how well it works for the family.
During our most recent visit to Guatemala, we saw this model in action. Juan Francisco “Chico” Velasquez and his wife Florida Vitalia welcomed us into their home to see their new clean cookstove. Chico and his family have benefited from the stove for eight months now, greatly reducing their fuelwood use and indoor air pollution in the home. Our partners at Utz Che’ worked with community members to design this stove to meet their unique cooking preferences.
Chico says, “Before we had the clean cookstove, I never knew food could smell so good! Now that there is no smoke in the kitchen, you can smell dinner cooking from outside the house and all the way down the street.”
To learn more about our Clean Cookstove Program click here.
by Jamie Folsom, National Director
ONABEN’s Trainers in Training!
Our Native American Business Network (ONABEN) hosted their Indianpreneurship Training of the Trainers in Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago. I was so excited to attend and have the chance to meet business and economic development professionals from all over Indian Country.
There is nothing better than being in a room full of people who share your goals of helping others get jobs and create jobs in their communities, especially for Native people because we often live so far from one another. It was truly an event that brought to mind Sitting Bull’s words: “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”
TWP has adapted the 12-week Indianpreneurship curriculum for its week-long Green Business Development in Indian Country (GBDIC) training. We focus on renewable energy, sustainable housing and other applications of green technology that will benefit Native communities. The training helps with the nuts and bolts of budgeting and marketing for students who are considering starting their own businesses. They leave the week-long course with a foundation for creating a strong business plan. The Training of the Trainers gave me new ideas for GBDIC as part of our efforts to foster better business skills, particularly in the area of creating a solid financial foundation for starting a business.
Thank you ONABEN, and those who attended, for sharing your knowledge and skills. Whatever good we do for our people today, our children and grandchildren will be watching and passing on to their children, so we better get good things done!
To learn more about ONABEN please visit www.onaben.org
by Sebastian Africano, International Director
Members of CADPI gain hands-on experience building clean cookstoves.
Our partners at Proleña in Nicaragua were proud to receive a delegation from the Center for the Autonomy and Development of Indigenous People (CADPI) at their headquarters and demonstration site in Managua last week. CADPI is a social organization dedicated to the investigation and study of themes related to indigenous peoples of Nicaragua, Central America, and the Caribbean.
CADPI sent a delegation of three men and six women from the Autonomous Region of the North Atlantic, or RAAN as it’s known in Nicaragua, to investigate improved cookstove options for their remote region, which is experiencing rapid deforestation at the hand of cattle ranchers and other interests.
At Proleña, the group tested a variety of cookstoves, but decided that the most appropriate was the Emelda cookstove. This stove was designed in partnership with Proleña to better meet the needs of the most rural communities. After seeing the stove in action, the team received a step-by-step photo presentation on cookstove design, construction, use and maintenance, then built their own model under Proleña’s guidance.
These are the types of workshops we look forward to hosting on a larger scale at Proleña and TWP’s National Center for Biomass Energy and Climate Change, which is currently under construction in nearby La Paz Centro, Nicaragua. Teaching motivated groups techniques and technologies to both mitigate and adapt to climate change leads to local capacity and leadership in the struggle for sustainable resource management.
If you love our work then tell the world! GreatNonprofits – a review site like TripAdvisor – is honoring highly reviewed nonprofits with their 2014 Top-Rated Awards. Will you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your experience with us? All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and only takes 3 minutes!
To write a review of Trees, Water & People please visit: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/write/trees-water-people
In El Porvenir, El Salvador, staff members are busy with a full nursery of 30,000 seedlings that are now ready to be planted. We grow a wide variety of trees in this nursery including avocado, orange, cacao, cashew, and mahogany. This nursery provides local communities with a source for high-quality fruit, nut, coffee, cacao and hardwood trees.
Farmers most often purchase our trees as an investment – to diversify the agricultural products going to market from their plots and increase their income. Additionally, they invest in trees to improve soils and increase biodiversity on their land. Droughts this year across Central America have highlighted the importance of diversity and tree crops, as these are often more resilient in the face of water shortages.
To learn more about our Reforestation Program and how you can support our tree planting efforts please visit our website: www.treeswaterpeople.org
Choosing cacao seeds
The cacao has germinated!
Sending trees off to be planted
Nearly 50% of the 600 solar household lighting systems we sent to Honduras have been installed. We’re providing 1,200 new LED light points, 600 USB charging ports for cell phones and other small devices, and a new level of dignity for rural families that have lived their entire nocturnal lives by the light of candles, low quality flashlights, and contaminating kerosene lamps. Donors to our Catapult project helped to fund 125 of the lights in this shipment, allowing us to reach many more families in need of clean energy solutions for their homes.
Miriam Leonel Bonilla
“Many of our customers used to use ocote (a local pine that is used as a candle), and the smoke really bothered them. Or else they would buy candles and flashlights, and that was really expensive. They are very happy with their plantitas – solar lights!” -Miriam Leonel Bonilla, solar light user and distributor, Las Marías, Honduras
Risks and challenges
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and our vendors and promoters live with risk every day. We are lucky to have a dedicated team of people across the country that see the opportunities that exist in solar energy. They believe that the benefits that solar energy brings to their families and communities who buy the systems outweigh the challenges in getting them into the field.
What we’ve learned
This order of Barefoot Power solar household systems were our first test of a new international supply chain that has us ordering product in bulk to a central warehouse in El Salvador, from which the products are distributed by land to four different countries. Every step of that process contained a lesson in how to be more efficient in getting these products to the families that need them most. On a macro level, we have learned that we have one of the most innovative approaches to getting products to several Central American countries at once. In Honduras, we have learned that whoever can provide households with the best customer experience will be the one to succeed in expanding the great opportunities in renewable energy for the developing world.
Working with social impact technology company Dimagi, we will be piloting a new mobile data collection app called CommSell. This app will allow our field staff to complete surveys on an Android phone, in the field, and automatically populate a database that tells us where our products are, how long they’ve been there, and how much money they are saving users. We can also use this information to conduct follow-up visits and maintenance as needed.