Given ongoing political instability, it is easy to lose sight of long-term development issues in Haiti like deforestation. Agriculture, with the food and rural jobs it provides, depends in part on strategically reversing environmental degradation. There are many challenges in doing so - electrifying major cities from which the demand for wood charcoal comes, creating alternative fuel sources that are accessible and less expensive the charcoal, creating more jobs from protecting the environment than from exploiting it, and of course, education. North Haiti Christian University (NHCU) is one instiution with programs to promote agriculture and protect the environment. A short BBC article by Gemma Handy about NHCU is linked and below.
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.
CHIBAS is a non profit organization dedicated to developing the bio-fuel sector in Haiti. From June 24-25, CHIBAS will host Haiti's first Jatropha Stakeholders Conference in Port au Prince. This confrence will bring together NGOs, the private sector, and the government to help build partnerships needed to make jatropha a viable biofuel for Haiti. An invite to the event is attached. If you need further information, you can reach founder Gael Pressoir at firstname.lastname@example.org