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.<<

TWP Welcomes New Haiti Program Manager

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

Jean Marie Gabriel, Haiti Program Manager
Jean Marie Gabriel, Haiti Program Manager

It gives us great pleasure to welcome the newest member of the Trees, Water & People (TWP) family, Jean Marie Gabriel.  Jean is our new Haiti Program Manager, and will be living in Port-au-Prince representing TWP locally, and moving our projects forward.

Jean was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, and held a diverse array of occupations before moving to the United States to pursue University in 2000.  Most interesting to us was his work in the banking sector, working as a Loan Officer for Fond d’Assistance aux Entrepreneurs Moyens (Fund for the Assistance of Medium Entrepreneurs – FAEM) and as a Service Agent for one of Haiti’s biggest banks, Sogebank.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University and while completing a Master of Public Administration degree from Marist College in New York, Jean helped to found the Knowledge is Wealth Learning Center, an alternative education service for low income residents in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Jean is a proven leader and we are thrilled to have him managing our clean cookstove and reforestation efforts in Haiti.  Currently, he is in the process of setting up our in-country office, and setting TWP up for success in the coming years.  Please join us in welcoming Jean to the team by supporting TWP in 2012!

TWP Program Manager Jean Maire Gabriel
Haiti Program Manager Jean Maire Gabriel (left) visits with Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove vendors in Port-au-Prince.

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 http://treeswaterpeople.org/stoves/programs/haiti.htm

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

Photo of the Week: The Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove

Haiti clean cookstove
A Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove, manufactured in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the people and environment of Haiti.

Interested in learning more about the Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove Project? Click here for more information.

Remembering Haiti 2 Years Later

Today we are remembering Haiti, two years to the day after a devastating 7.0 earthquake further devastated the country and took the lives of over 300,000 people. Since 2007, we have been working with the people of Haiti to bring clean cookstoves and reforestation projects to communities in need. Together, with our partner organizations Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), International Lifeline Fund (ILF), and Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), we are empowering communities to better manage their precious natural resources through improved technology (i.e. clean cookstoves) and community-led reforestation projects.

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These photos show a glimpse of the progress TWP and partners have made since the 2010 earthquake. After a period of rebuilding, reorganization, and forming solid partnerships, we have made huge strides in developing a sustainable clean cookstove project that creates local employment, directly improving the social and economic well-being of hundreds of Haitian families.

We are continually humbled by the strength and resiliency of the Haitian people and look forward to the years ahead. Thank you to everyone who has supported these important projects.

If you are interested in donating a clean cookstove to a Haitian family click here.

Change a life. Give the gift of a stove.

Looking for a gift for the person in your life that has everything? Give the “Gift of a Stove” in their honor this holiday season! For only $20 you can donate a new clean cookstove to a family in Haiti in honor of any family member or friend: http://treeswaterpeople.org/stoves/programs/haiti.htm

Gift of a Clean Cookstove

 

Notes from the Field: Off the Beaten Track

by Jon Becker, TWP Board President

The sun is dropping in the sky as we snake our way through Port-au-Prince traffic, along several tent camps, and never ending rivers of people. We finally leave the city, and the road opens up. We drive for miles with no sign of surrounding life, suddenly we’re surprised to find areas overflowing with people, vehicles, buildings.  Why the surprise?  Because there are no lights, presumably because there’s no electricity.  So, we have to remain alert.  Under a black sky, and thanks to intrepid route finding by Sebastian and our backcountry guide/interpreter KeyKey (from partner International Lifeline Fund), we pull into Gonaives and the Paraiso Hotel for a late dinner, a place to sleep, and breakfast before we get back on the road Thursday morning.

I awake to see that we are now in very different surroundings. We have left the developed and somewhat lush zone surrounding Port-au-Prince and now look out to rugged, desiccated mountains surrounding rocky desert plains. Gonaives is doing its own version of the Haitian morning shuffle – with uniformed school kids crowding the streets, busy looking men and women moving about on foot, small motorbikes, or crowded onto the ever present “tap-taps” – small pickup trucks to large buses that randomly load and discharge their passengers, instantly identifiable by their screamingly colorful and come all ye faithful inspired paint jobs. Messages range from Jesus Saves to Toyotas Rule, with an occasional homage to Bob Marley. Out of Gonaives our environment quickly becomes full on tropical desert.  Sand, rocks, cactus, and the Gulf of Gonave off to the west, as far as the eye can see. KeyKey and I can do a little sightseeing, but Sebastian needs to keep his eyes firmly on the road, or what passes for the road.   The pavement is gone, as is often any semblance of grading or even the vaguest sense of a single track. At first we laugh nervously as we slip, slide, and bottom out, but that gives way to English, Spanish, and Creole prayers for safety, traction, and ultimate deliverance. I get out at several mud pit boulder garden rut maze crossings to scout routes, photo document the adventure, and avoid the possibility of being in a capsized car. We make it through them all – somebody’s karma is in the plus zone. By now we’re so far off the beaten track that I can barely go to the place of considering that we might get stuck or break down. We rarely see another car – every once in a while some goats or burros. It’s very beautiful, in the powerful and forbidding ways that deserts can be.

The road to Sources Chaudes
Black Gold

Finally, we approach our day’s destination – the tiny remote village of Sources Chaudes, and just to be sure that we get our daily dose of Haitian surprise and irony, it happens that today is market day here – so that the one street of the town is absolutely packed with vendors, buyers, burros, and an endless variety of animal, vegetable, and mineral wares for sale. We make like Sources Chaudesians, and go to market. What a show! I recognize the rice and beans, beautifully displayed in their rawness. Some of the veggies have me scratching my head – exotic fruits and squashes that aren’t on the shelves where I usually shop. The meat department features the freshest products you’ll ever experience – since the goats, chickens, and pigs are all still walking around. Sebastian and KeyKey do some price surveying/data collection for agro-forestry work. I try to look not too out of place – a challenge being the only non-locals at the market. The big draw is down the hill (just to the left of the burro parking lot), where the charcoal concession has set up shop. There are a couple of six foot high piles of the black gold, dozens of 35 kg bags already filled, and an energetic crew hustling about, loading bags, answering questions, and making sales. KeyKey and Sebastian dive in, checking on prices, processes, products, anything else they can draw out of the boys. As the sun passes midday, many of the shoppers start loading up for the commute home. Amazing how much goods, including live goats and chickens, you can load onto one little burro – and usually still have room for the driver to sit on top for a ride too. Some of the burros appear to be heading up the trail for home by themselves – let’s see your family car do that!