Notes from the Field: Haiti Clean Cookstove Program Expanding Reach

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

clean cookstove vendor forum_haiti
Jean Gabriel and Sebastian Africano lead a Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove vendor forum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Trees, Water & People’s Haiti Program Manager, Jean Gabriel, continues to deliver in Port-au-Prince, expanding the Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) sales force to include vendors in four other Haitian cities.  In the past few months, hundreds of these clean cookstoves have been sold, and prototyping work has started on a new double burner cookstove.  From our years of work in the sector, we know that replacing one burner in a biomass fuel-dependent household only solves half the problem.

clean cookstoves Haiti
Clean cookstoves ready for Haitian families to use!

The double burner model we are developing is two fuel-efficient charcoal stoves in one body – a solution not currently offered in the Haitian marketplace, apart from those we sell through our vendors.  Our current goal is to bring the cost of this unit down while keeping quality and durability high.  Purchasing power in Haiti’s urban areas is still low, so we work to educate people on how an investment like this pays for itself in a matter of weeks in fuel savings alone.  Results with lay-away and micro-credit have been growing – we know that once the stove is in a users hands, they will not want to return to their previous stoves.

Our donors are what drives the successes of this cookstove program.  Our long-term goals are to make the ZPB a locally owned product, manufactured, marketed and sold by a network of local entrepreneurs.  We are far enough down the road to know that the product is solid and sought after, and now we are focusing on how to make the venture sustainable.  This includes developing a robust market for replacement parts, compiling a network of artisans who can repair and refurbish the stove, and organizing all these entrepreneurs under a common banner, knowing that this gives our program the best chance of expanding long after we are gone.

The challenge is big, and we can only tackle it with your help.  Thank you for your support!

>>To make a donation to this project click here.<<

Notes from the Field: The Zanmi Pye Bwa Cookstove Goes to Market

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove inventoryZanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) cookstoves have officially entered the marketplace in Port-au-Prince, where they are being made available to consumers at a promotional price to build excitement around this innovative new product. By way of Trees, Water & People’s 2011 partnership with International Lifeline Fund, five retailers have been trained to begin marketing and selling the ZPB cookstove in the capital city.

Cookstove promoter, Angie, gets ready to do a demonstration of the Zanmi Pye Bwa in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Over the last several months, the ZPB stove has been demonstrated around the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area to stimulate demand for this important technology.  Apart from posters, banners, and pamphlets, a radio ad promoting the stove and its benefits has been launched in the capital, and special events are held to generate business for the retail vendors.  These steps are crucial to establishing a sustainable relationship between producers and consumers of the cookstoves over the long-term.

As demand grows, we will continue to raise funds to increase the productive capacity of our teams, and to extend distribution of ZPB products throughout the city.  Feedback from both users of the stoves and partners has been overwhelmingly positive, and encourages us to continue providing quality products and services, raising the bar for fuel efficiency, job creation and income generation in the Haitian cookstove market.

To learn more about the Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove Project please visit

Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstoves for sale at a store front in Port-au-Prince

Notes from the Field: A Humbling Journey to Haiti

By Richard Fox, TWP National Director

May 2011: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

While in Port-au-Prince this April I witnessed a city that is still experiencing overwhelming need. Today much of the rubble from thousands of destroyed structures remains where it fell and many people still live in tent communities. Life, though, has been slowly improving and Trees, Water & People (TWP), in partnership with International Lifeline Fund (ILF), is continuing to build low cost, fuel efficient cookstoves that not only lessen the exorbitant price families pay for charcoal, but also help relieve pressure on the disappearing Haitian forest.

After collecting valuable feedback from our stove beneficiaries, TWP and ILF worked together to design the Zanmi Pye Bwa (“Friend of the Forest”) fuel-efficient cookstove. A group of tinsmiths was then brought together to cut and assemble 1,000 Zanmi Pye Bwacookstoves over a six week period. Centralizing production without a factory site is challenging, but allows us to improve standardization of our product while offering these skilled metal workers a positive change of environment – getting them away from rough neighborhoods characterized by burning trash, dilapidated buildings, crowds, and traffic.  All in all, these workers have embarked on what we hope will be an uplifting rise out of poverty, gaining access to steady and dignified employment in what TWP and ILF intend to develop into a significant local charcoal stove manufacturing operation over the next year.

The Zanmi Pye Bwa ("Friend of the Forest") clean cookstove. A joint effort of Trees, Water & People and International Lifeline Fund.

I was greatly humbled by my journey and it reminded me once again to be thankful for all I have.  It was heartening to see how effective TWP and ILF are at utilizing our donors’ contributions and to witness the positive and lasting impact our work is having for thousand of Haitian families.

Notes from the Field: Reflections from Africa to Haiti

Notes from the Field by Sebastian Africano, TWP’s Deputy International Director:

April 21st, 2011: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Sebastian Africano hanging out with a group of children in the Bugonia district of Uganda.

As we begin to wrap up our Spring 2011 site visits, we begin to reflect on all that has passed since we left Fort Collins several weeks ago.  My adventure began in Kenya in late February, where I spoke at the 2011 UNEP Sasakawa Prize Ceremony in celebration of this year’s laureates and the International Year of the Forest.  This was followed by a 2-week trip to Uganda, where along with Fort Collins based partners, Rodelle Vanilla, we launched what will become TWP’s first African stove program.  Soon after we found ourselves in Guatemala, traveling the country meeting with potential new partners in the country’s Altiplano, and then El Salvador, where we visited our partner Agua y Arboles para El Pueblo’s (AAP) new projects in communities surrounding an important protected area, Cerro El Aguila.  This trip was punctuated by visits to their spectacular tree nursery, which is teeming with 28 species that will be planted throughout the country this rainy season.  This journey will end 10 days from now in Haiti, where we are halfway into a visit with partners International Lifeline Fund (ILF) in Port-au-Prince, and working hard to get our urban stove commercialization project off the ground.

Sebastian Africano (R) and a local Haitian metal worker take a break from stove building.

Upon arrival to Haiti, and with the invaluable support of stove design consultant Brian Martin of Portland, Oregon, we headed into the field to check on stoves distributed 2 months ago, during Brian’s last visit.  We collected valuable feedback from about 20 families, which began a discussion around design modifications, improvements, and production strategies.  We then assembled a group of ten tin-smiths, some of which had worked with Brian and ILF in the past, who have now been contracted to cut and assemble 1,000 cookstoves in the next six weeks.  No small feat, by any measure, but cohesion amongst the team members has been quick to form, and all share ideas, help eachother with challenging pieces, and take time to laugh and joke with us as they work.

Haitian metal workers work on building the Zanmi Pye Bwa (“Friend of the Forest”) fuel-efficient cookstove.

This week has consisted of getting to know our resource and talent pool, bringing in tools, equipment and materials from all over Port-au-Prince to centralize production at ILF’s offices in the capital.  We introduced power tools to the stove production process, which is a break from the norm, but which has increased consistency and speed, allowing us to reach impressive volumes quickly.  The office is now filled with a cacophony of metal-on-metal pings, bangs and crashes, as hundreds of charcoal bowls and other parts roll off the production line.  Centralizing production without a factory site is challenging, but allows us to improve standardization of our product while offering these skilled metal workers a positive change of environment – getting them away from rough neighborhoods characterized by burning trash, dilapidated buildings, crowds and traffic.   All in all, these workers have embarked on what we hope will be an uplifting rise out of poverty, gaining access to steady and dignified employment in what we intend to develop into a significant charcoal stove manufacturing operation over the next year.

Keep your eyes and ears on the Zanmi Pye Bwa (Friend of the Forest) project as it develops, and support TWP by spreading the word as we raise funds to increase our production capacity and impact over the coming months!

*Many thanks to Brian Martin (Working Hands Productions) for the wonderful photos from Haiti.

Sunset over Port-au-Prince

Back to Haiti: A Note from TWP’s Deputy International Director

Deputy International Director Sebastian Africano hangs out with Haitian children at an IDP camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Dear Friends,
Today I embark on a 6-week trip to Central America and Haiti to visit the international programs of Trees, Water & People (TWP). November 5-18, I will be in Haiti and below are a few key activities on my itinerary:

  1. Arrive in Port-au-Prince and conduct analysis of Rocket stove distribution and monitoring of 7,000 household stoves with our partner, International Lifeline Fund (ILF).
  2. Discuss next steps for the development of a comprehensive National Stove Strategy for institutional and household stoves in Haiti.
  3. Visit original beneficiary families of TWP emergency relief stoves in Sineas Camp, Port-au-Prince.
  4. Visit new beneficiary families in Corail and Isa Tabare.
  5. Participate in United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) meeting to develop the National Improved Stove strategy in conjunction with the Haitian Government (TWP has an advisory role to the working group).
  6. Visit beneficiaries of TWP’s stove project in the Central Plateau of Haiti, as well as reconnect with the MPP – a rural peoples movement that is very interested in promoting fuel-efficient stoves to their 61,000 members. They have an abandoned ceramics facility that could become the foundation of a new local stove factory.
  7. Visit northern Haiti to assess the access to raw materials for stove building through ports and overland crossings from the Dominican Republic.

If you are interested in sending stoves to Haiti, click here.  Our Haitian friends need our continued support during these difficult times.

Kind Regards,