Charcoal production is a cause of deforestation in Haiti although the true extent is debatable. Most Haitians in the countryside do not have affordable energy alternatives and many livelihoods are linked to making, transporting, and selling it. Rather than lamenting the country's dependence on charcoal, an alternative approach would be to help charcoal producers switch to fast-growing trees and harvest them in a more environmentally responsible manner. The Haitian government, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, and the World Bank are promoting efforts to do so in rural areas. More information in the AP article below.
Below is an article by Rashmee Roshan Lall of the Guardian concerning the Haitian government's plan to promote the planting of 50 million trees a year. The success of this campaign will largely depend upon giving people accessible, affordable alternatives to charcoal. Other countries have launched successful reforestation campaigns - hopefully, Haitian government and civil society can now do the same.
The Public-Private Alliance Foundation (PPAF) is holding a consultation on ethanol cookstoves at the United Nations on April 4th. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together stakeholders that could expand production and use of ethanol in Haiti and to raise awareness about how clean energy could slow deforestation and created green jobs. Another good source of information is Project Gaia, which has been promoting ethanol stoves in Mozambique, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Brazil, and most recently Haiti. The full announcement follows.
The Decheteries De Carrefour Feuilles factory, founded by CASCAF, was selected among 12 finalists in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Challenge 09 Competition. This project has created jobs, cleaned up neighborhoods, and made available a reasonably priced alternative to the wood charcoal that has left Haiti's hills and mountains largest deforested. If you also feel that this program deserves to be expanded and replicated, vote for it at the BBC World Challenge website. Bon Chans!
In 2006, Haiti Innovation called for the Haitian Government to start subsidizing propane, if only on a pilot basis. There has been no movement on the part of the Haitian government to do so, either in practice or in strategic planning documents like the Haiti Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. However, help may be on the way from its closest neighbor, the Dominican Republic.
Below is a Miami Herald article on the relationship between environmental degradation in Haiti and natural disasters. Click here to see an audio slideshow of the consequences of deforestation. The article also contains a link to an interview with Jane Wynne, who is intimately familiar with Haiti's environmental issues. As she puts it, "There is hope but only if we have the will to change." There is also a link to an interview with Prime Minister Pierre-Louis. Though it will take all of Haitian society to reverse the deforestation, her role is to prepare and coordinate a governmental response. It is long overdue.
Attached is an assessment carried out by the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (EMAP) on Haiti's reliance on wood based charcoal for its energy needs - estimated to be about 70% of total energy usage. Having read the assessment, I feel it raises some sensible interventions even if they do not go far enough. However, the strategy could provide a foundation upon which to build.
I came across an impressive multimedia piece on Haiti's environmental damage in the South Florida Sun Sentinal. The piece contains impressive, and disturbing, photography of deforestation, erosion, and flooding. In addition, there are photo essays, interactive lessons for children, and a number of graphs and charts. The Wynne Farm is also mentioned in this piece. Unfortunately, the "community and solutions" section does not offer up any solutions. Despite this, this is a good piece for understanding Haiti's deteriorating environment - and the repercussions. You can access the piece by clicking here.