On August 17th, TWP and our partner organization, Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA), inaugurated the Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Center has been developed as part of our work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas’ (ECPA)Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America initiative. Since November 2011, TWP and AHDESA have been working as “Implementing Partners” with the ECPA to promote clean energy, low carbon development, and climate-resilient growth in Central America.
The new Renewable Energy Training & Demonstration Center is powered by a 2kW solar PV system and wind energy. In addition, AHDESA has all of the clean cookstove models that they produce on display as well as an array of Cleantech products that they sell to communities who lack access to the energy grid.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event!
by Elliot Cooper, International Program Coordinator
For being slightly smaller than Massachusetts, El Salvador has a myriad of different cultures, socioeconomic realities, and geographic features. We’re now on our last day in this wonderful country, having spent three very long work days out in the field, observing, facilitating, questioning, smiling, and laughing.
We headed out early on our 1st field day, leaving San Salvador with our in-country counterparts Arboles y Agua para el Puelo (AAP) a bit before 7:30am. We drove east along the main artery of El Salvador until we hit San Miguel, and then turned north for an hour before running into San Francisco Gotera. From here, we took our vehicle out of two wheel drive and went into 4×4 mode as we headed up into the hills to meet with our first Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), Andrew Niiro, who is facilitating the building of Justa clean coookstoves in his community of Gualindo Arriba located high in the hills above Gotera.
Andres, as everyone calls him, has built more than 20 clean cookstoves, as part of the Peace Corps and TWP’s work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) “Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America” initiative. After we met Andres’ community counterpart Rosa Gonzalez, we had a quick meeting to introduce parties and move through the formal motions of Latin American culture. We presented Rosa and Andres with their official ECPA tiles (a 15×15 cm tile shown in the photo below) that they will adhere to every Justa stove built within the project.
This first year, AAP has been charged with building 300 stoves, as with the next two years, making 900 in total. With our fiscal year ending on September 30th, AAP has entered more than 10 communities and constructed more than 275 Justa clean cookstoves, which will offset more than 1,650 tons of carbon emissions during their lifetimes. This number is impressive, but even more so when you think about the reality of AAP’s monetary limitations, the harsh roads of the country, and the amount of time that goes into training local stove builders, teaching stove beneficiaries how to correctly use their cookstoves, and monitoring activities down the line that will ensure successful use and maintenance of the cookstoves.
We had a great time- albeit sweating profusely- out in the Eastern region of El Salvador, visiting another community hosting a PCV invested in the Justa cookstove project, and then hit the road for our four hour journey back to San Salvador. Over the next two days, we headed north towards the Honduran border, meeting up with yet another PCV implementing a project of more than 40 clean cookstoves, and then to the West to see some reforestation and dry composting latrine projects.
Today, we will help inaugurate the new Renewable Energy Training & Demonstration Center in Tegucigalpa at 10am MST. Stay tuned for updates!
Recently, in partnership with Counter Culture Coffee, we built 86 Justa clean cookstoves into the kitchens of Café Orgánico Marcala (COMSA) producers in Marcala, La Paz, Honduras, via the technical assistance provided by La Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA). In all, 626 family members of COMSA producers in and around Marcala will benefit from cleaner indoor air, more disposable income, and will use less than half the wood required by their former cookstoves.
Trees, Water & People would like to thank the Counter Culture Coffee team for their dedication to providing high quality coffee to those who appreciate it, while, at the same time, giving back to the communities that produce the product. Over the lifespan of these cookstoves, 645 tons of CO2 will be avoided, reducing the amount of hazardous greenhouse gases in our global atmosphere that are leading to climate change.
by Claudia Menendez, International Program Coordinator
At the National University of Agriculture (UNA) in Olancho, Honduras, Trees, Water & People (TWP) and our Honduran partner, Asociación Hondureña para El Desarrollo (AHDESA), have helped establish community reforestation projects and a renewable energy demonstration site. In 2011, TWP helped fund the start up of a tree nursery with 12 fruit species and 10 hardwood species, for a total of 20,000 trees. The UNA worked directly with the communities of La Florida and Sante Fe and 10 elementary schools in the area. Students were involved in environmental education classes where they learned about the consequences of deforestation and forest degradation; and, most importantly, they learned how to be part of the solution by planting trees. The students practiced land-mapping exercises to understand how topography and hydrology work together to create ideal areas for planting. Participating schools included:
1. Escuela de la aldea La florida
2. Escuela de Los Ángeles
3. Escuela de La Unión, Talgua
4. Escuela de La Flor del Café
5. Escuela de Buena Vista
6. Escuela de santa Fe de Buena Vista
7. Escuela de Jamasquire
8. Escuela de La Jagua
9. Escuela de Vallecito de Culmi
10. Escuela de Pinabetales
In 2012, with funding from the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), TWP has set up a renewable energy demonstration site that includes clean cookstove models, a solar panel with water pump, and a biodigestor. The focus of the site is to provide a hands-on training center where university students can learn about the benefits of renewable energy, and how to plan and implement projects that increase access to clean energy in rural communities.
by Jon Becker, Trees, Water & People Board President
In the words of a great King, “I have been to the mountaintop, and I have seen the promised land”. The mountaintop is quite literal - we’re visiting villages to the west of Tegucigalpa at altitudes up to 9,000 feet. I have come to Honduras with Trees, Water & People’s Executive Director, Richard Fox, for a week of meetings with our Central American program partners and trips to the field to see our projects in place. The Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA) Director, Ignacio Osorto, is our driver and he is TWP’s longtime in-country collaborator on clean cookstove and reforestation projects. A tall, regal man who has been through decades of change, struggle, and hard-fought progress in Honduras, Nacho, as he is affectionately called, is taking us up to meet with two of AHDESA’s more recent clients. His son Ben, who basically grew up with AHDESA, is with us on this trip, in his new capacity as TWP’s Central American Regional Coordinator.
After about three hours of climbing and winding up into the highlands of the department of La Paz, through breathtaking pine forests intermingled with small farms and pueblos, we arrive at the picturesque mountain village of Marcala. To me, this is holy ground, because the area surrounding Marcala is one of the important and premium coffee growing regions of Honduras. It occurred to me that in a future, more perfect world, the lands underneath which petroleum lies will no longer be so treasured, and the places like Marcala, where great coffee comes from, will be properly venerated. But for today, we are here to meet with one of AHDESA’s new associates, La Cooperative Mixta Mujeres de la Sierra. Nacho has described them to us as a women’s coffee co-op, but what I’m about to experience goes so far beyond that label. Because now comes “the promised land”. We are greeted at the Co-op office by the women of the mountains, indigenous people called Lenca – smiling and so welcoming. They’re dressed in a mixture of western and traditional, brightly colored clothing, some with their children along.
We take our seats in their meeting room, the lights go down, and these lovely ladies whose roots go back centuries in this land begin their PowerPoint presentation to us. My head’s starting to spin as I hear their story about organizing themselves to improve their position in the coffee trade, expanding their work to include development, production, and branding of other products such as wines and snack foods, branching out into a variety of financial services including micro-lending, and delivery of educational programs for their members and their children. I learn that several of them have traveled to the U.S. and Europe to meet with other co-op and business leaders. I am absolutely floored. This is the “developing” world? Well, it’s developing very fast.
Nacho and Ben begin our presentation on the products and services we want to work with the Co-op on – clean cookstoves, solar lighting, and solar phone charging. I look around the room and see several of the women checking messages on their smart phones. Phones that might soon be receiving their charges from these solar appliances. They’ve actually been on board with our stove program for about a year and a half now, have completed the trainings on stove construction with AHDESA’s technicians, and have now built and installed some 500 Justa clean cookstove models. They are thrilled about the prospects for adding the solar devices to the mix – many of their members live without electricity in their homes.
We are thrilled about their organization, the depth and breadth of the services they provide, their remarkable ability for gracefully straddling the modern and traditional worlds. And perhaps most exciting of all – Las Mujeres are not alone, they are not one-of-a-kind. There appears to be a vibrant, growing movement of women’s rural agricultural co-ops in Honduras, and I presume this must spill over the borders into our other Latin American program countries – Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, and Haiti. I feel like we have found our match, the perfect platform to connect with our mission, via of course our fantastic in-country project partners like AHDESA. I walk out of our meeting in Marcala, high in the mountains of Honduras, higher still with the excitement and joy of believing that our way forward is right here, in place and ready to go. These women are the real leaders into the better, more just, more sustainable future. Our job is to serve them. We can do and we will do this.
The 2011 Work Tour just returned from an exciting trip to Honduras, where the group of 18 had a 10-day adventure of volunteer work and sightseeing. Claudia Menendez, our fearless International Program Coordinator, guided the group (ranging in ages from 9 to 74 years old), giving each participant an insider’s perspective on our clean cookstove and reforestation projects.
The Work Tour traveled to the communities of El Empedrado, Quiscamote, El Escarbadero, and Monte Redondo to complete volunteer projects. In just 10 days, the group planted over 300 trees and built 12 clean cookstoves. This experience gave each person the opportunity to learn more about TWP’s community-based development approach while learning about the cultural context of Honduras.
We are so glad this wonderful group of people could come together with us and make the trip to Central America. We thank each and every person for bringing positive energy and hard work to the tour.