BBC 2009 World Challenge: Online Campaign for Haiti Gains Momentum

By Bryan Schaaf on Monday, October 12, 2009.

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! 

<--break->

According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, during a speech with South Florida's Haitian community last month, Clinton pulled out an example of the briquette and held it up to the audience as an example of how a deforested Haiti can find alternative sources of energy other than trees.

 

In response, she describes how City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones joined forces with South Florida's Haitian community and five U.S. cities -- Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles -- to launch a voting campaign to help Haiti win the competition on behalf of the environmentally friendly project.

 

According to Vibe, celebrities are coming out in heavy support for the project including actress Garcelle Beauvais, Russell Simmons, Tony Yayo, Jamie Hector and Wyclef Jean.  Bill Clinton released a video statement endorsing the project.  In the statement he says, "...this project cleans up the neighborhood, reduces the need to cut down trees and is an example of the kind of thing that can be done and replicated all across Haiti and in countries all across the world."

 

Haiti need a series of interventions to halt and reverse the environmental degradation.  This could include electrication of all Port au Prince to reduce the demand for wood charcoal from the countryside, expanding access to subsidized kerosone, creating forestry jobs to plant and protect trees, advancing public/private partnerships to create internal demand for jatropha and other non food based biofuels, and promoting alternative energy sources such as briquettes.  Who knows, perhaps one day there will be factories such as this throughout Haiti. 

 

N'ap swiv.

Bryan 

I'm very interested on

I'm very interested on joining this project or make any form of contribution to help out. Please send some info on how to help this amazing company grow.

Thank you,
Johny

Clearing Haiti's Streets of Rubbish Means Clearing Crime Too

6/7/2010
ENS
By Gemma Pitcher
.
Spend two hours in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's ramshackle capital, and the likelihood is that at least one will be passed in a traffic jam. Already poorly maintained, the city's infrastructure was hopelessly damaged by the January earthquake. Piles of concrete rubble from destroyed buildings block the streets and turn the twisting, congested roads into a nightmare of honking horns and exhaust fumes.
.
Look more closely and you'll see that some of what looks like rubble blocking streets and intersections is actually garbage, swept into five-foot or ten-foot tall piles of stinking refuse that are magnets for flies, rats and feral dogs. With the start of the rainy season, this rubbish is frequently swept into canals, blocking the stormwater runoff, breeding disease-carrying mosquitoes and flooding the streets.
.
Venture into Carrefour-Feuilles, one of Port-au-Prince's poorest suburbs and you'll notice something unusual. Small-scale trash still litters the sidewalks and gutters, but the huge piles of garbage are few and far between. Instead, there are large blue waste containers every few blocks. Gangs of men and women in blue overalls patrol the streets, scooping rubbish into sacks.
.
The bins and street cleaning groups are the products of a long-running project called CASCAF - in French, the Sanitation Action Committee of Carrefour-Feuilles - which not only gathers rubbish from the streets, but also recycles it into environmentally-friendly cooking briquettes. "It's a very clever idea that this community has come up with, because it has not one, but three benefits," says Liliana Nicolini, an energetic Brazilian who provides technical advice to the project on behalf of the United Nations Development Program.
.
"One, it provides employment to over 300 families. Two, it keeps the streets clear of rubbish. And three, they make these briquettes, which reduce the use of charcoal," she said. The CASCAP factory, tucked in against one of the area's steep ridges, is a sweet-smelling and well-organized space, with huge color-coded containers labeled paper, plastic and compost. Inside, more blue-overalled workers wearing breathing masks and heavy gloves sort through the rubbish in the triage area. Plastic and metal is sold on to recyclers, organic waste is put aside for compost, and paper and cardboard become the cooking briquettes.
.
It's a deliberately low-tech and simple process - the paper and card are soaked in barrels of water for two days, then pounded with a giant pestle and mortar. The resulting mush is tipped into wheelbarrows and mixed by hand with sawdust. The next step is to pack it into plastic drainpipes with holes drilled in the sides. These home-made molds are loaded onto a machine which consists of a hydraulic truck tire jack bolted onto a frame holding 25 metal cylinders. As the cylinders are lowered into the molds using the jack, the water is squeezed out of the holes in the sides.
.
All that remains is to dry the resulting compacted rolls of fuel in the sun and cut them into neat, circular briquettes. The briquette press was designed with input from the factory staff and built in local workshops. Using dried briquettes in a simple metal stove, one of the workers, Melanie Germain, whips up a staff lunch of beans and rice in impressively fast time. "Our briquettes burn fast at first in order to boil the water," she explains. "Then they burn slower to simmer it the way we like to cook our food." Most Haitians cook using charcoal, which is not only harmful to health but also relatively expensive in a country where 78 percent of people live on less than $2 a day.
.
Using briquettes, the cost of cooking a meal is 22 gourdes (56c), as compared with 50 gourdes ($1.40) using charcoal. Then there are the environmental benefits. Haiti's deforested countryside is depleted further when rural inhabitants cut down their few remaining trees to sell for charcoal. Reducing the scale of the charcoal industry is vital to keep trees in the ground and return fertility to barren soil. An unexpected side effect of cleaning the streets of rubbish has been clearing them of crime as well. It is estimated that 50 percent of the buildings in Carrefour-Feuilles collapsed entirely during the earthquake, leaving thousands homeless and jobless.
.
Before the advent of the project, Carrefour-Feuilles was a hotbed of gang activity, with small-time crime the only possible means of income for most inhabitants. Today, the factory and street cleaning teams employ 380 people. To spread the benefits as widely as possible, there's a rule that each worker must come from a different family, and that at least half of them must be women. This puts earning power in the hands of responsible household leaders and ensures that the wages of $6 a day go directly towards feeding and educating children.
.
It's estimated that the effects of the project touch over 150,000 people, and violence has dropped away as a result. Lynette Sejour, who has worked at the factory since its launch three years ago, says not only is she now able to send all seven of her children to school, but she feels safer as well. "People who once would have joined gangs now know they can do better on the street cleaning teams," she says. The market for briquettes is expanding slowly, with the project running publicity campaigns and training local sales agents to spread the word about the benefits of the new fuel.
.
"It was slow at first, but people around here are getting the idea now," says Heblenette Polycarpe, a supervisor at the factory. There's also a healthy market among the thousands of nongovernmental organizations working in Haiti. The World Food Program, for example, buys briquettes in bulk, as do educational charities that need to cook for large numbers of hungry schoolchildren. The CASCAF project is jointly funded by the UN Development Program, a Haitian bank and the governments of India, Brazil and South Africa.
.
Future plans for the project include a composting center to produce fertilizer and a public marketplace to help street vendors sell their wares. "The reason this thing works is because the community came up with the idea themselves," says Nicolini. "The earthquake set them back a bit, but the people have seen the benefits now, so they won't let it fail."

Konpay on Briquette Presses

Konpay on Briquette Presses: Notes that groups promoting Professor Amy Smith's (MIT) alternative charcoal briquettes include agronomist Isaac Cherestal of CAPAS, the Center to Support Agricultural Production in the South, which is located near the Les Cayes airport, and the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE) in Camp Perrin. Dan Schnitzer or EarthSpark International visited an Ecole Atelier in Camp Perrin and has detailed visits to other projects on his blog.
.
Konpay (www.konpay.org) is working with the Haitian National Coalition for the Environment (KNAA) to promote these alternative charcoal briquettes nationally in Haiti. They are easily made with a steel drum and a mold to press the briquettes into shape, and you can use all kinds of organic waste (coconut husks, bagasse, etc) to make them, along with clay-like soil. They burn hotter and longer than traditional wood charcoal if properly produced. They have been coupling them with a rocket stove (fou lokal) that is promoted by Trees, Water, People through partners at a grassroots-level. The rocket stove eliminates the need for charcoal because it fires with brush and twigs, but when coupled with alternative charcoal briquettes, it's even more efficient.

Recycling in Haiti Eases Tensions in a Very Violent Neighborhoo

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Two years ago, the Carrefour Feuilles (pronounced "kar-ah-fur fay") neighborhood was considered too dangerous for U.N. peacekeepers who were not protected by armored vehicles. And even today, a dozen or so Sri Lankan troops garrisoned here nervously stand watch behind heavy fortifications.
.
But Carrefour Fueilles has turned out to be perfect for an experimental solid waste processing and recycling plant set up by people who live in the neighborhood. "We helped to create the conditions that made it possible for [U.N. peacekeepers] to come and protect us," said Patrick Massenat, the president of the group that opened the recycling plant in 2007.
.
The recycling initiative could also be key to ending Haiti's dangerous overreliance on charcoal for energy -- responsible for the loss of 98 percent of the nation's forests. The plant converts waste paper collected from the streets to hockey puck-sized "briquettes" that burn hotter than charcoal and cost half as much. It also employs 385 people, paying each about $4 per day, comparable to pay for government workers.
.
The United Nations has been helping neighborhood leaders organize and finance the recycling plant and other environmental initiatives in slums that were scenes of heavy gun battles between Brazilian and Jordanian troops and gangs that controlled much of the capital. Such jobs produce fuel for cooking, control flooding from denuded hillsides and grow desperately needed crops. "Carrefour Feuilles is a poor neighborhood, populated neighborhood, with people in a precarious situation there, and before the project settled, it was known as a very violent neighborhood," said Eliana Nicolini, a Brazilian U.N. aid worker coordinating the recycling project. "So far, it is a small little setup."
.
What is most notable about these projects is that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of U.N. environmental experts or urban specialists. They are overseen by the community violence reduction arm of the 10,000-strong peacekeeping operation, MINUSTAH. The specialized unit, established in 2006, is most active in Port-au-Prince but has also mobilized efforts to build drainage canals and enhance fishing in rural areas.
.
Even though troops have largely quelled gang violence, political and social tensions in the poorest neighborhoods persist. But residents say putting people to work on environmental cleanup projects is making life better and having a noticeably calming affect. MINUSTAH's community violence reduction, or CVR, section is involved in more than 30 projects nationwide and has a budget of $3.4 million. Projects are conceived by the Haitians themselves and launched after being vetted by not only engineers and agronomy experts but also sociologists and psychologists.
.
The Carrefour Feuilles initiative is arguably unique, holding the potential to transform the national economy and halt Haiti's most serious environmental problem, deforestation (see related story). Here is how it works: Workers scour the neighborhood each morning to gather trash from bins they have set up and sometimes from households. Trucks haul refuse to a compound where recyclables are separated from the organic waste. Plastic, metal and glass are exported to recyclers in Taiwan, China, Canada and elsewhere, as there is no infrastructure in Haiti to process the materials. About 18 to 20 percent of the remaining refuse is hauled off to landfills.
.
What the plant is really after is paper and cardboard. After the paper is separated, workers mix it with water and sawdust and mash it into a cellulose pulp. The pulp is packed into PVC molds and compacted with a hydraulic press to squeeze out water, making a briquette that is left to dry in the sun for about a week. The plant produces 700 to 1,000 briquettes a day this way, a fuel that burns hotter and cleaner than charcoal. And it is doing that with technology that is entirely Haitian and requires no electricity. The only fuel is gasoline for the trucks.
.
Mayors from all over Haiti have visited the facility, and government officials are eager to establish similar centers all over the country and expand the distribution of waste-paper briquettes. "It's not yet sold massively on the street, but we know that as time goes by and in the next upcoming weeks, the distribution will go further and it will be more accessible," said Adam Otly, 40, who works at the plant. Otly and other workers here are confident the briquettes will be a massive hit throughout Haiti.
.
Two cans of charcoal -- what is required to cook enough food to feed the average-sized family for a day -- costs about 50 gourdes, or a half-day's income. But it would cost 11 gourdes to cook the equivalent amount of food with the center's briquettes. "If you put 2 liters of water to boil with charcoal, it takes 17 minutes. With the briquette, the same quantity of water will boil in 11 minutes," said Jeanette Sejou, 36, a plant employee who has seven children. "So the savings is not only in our pocket, it's also in time."
.
The price is subsidized now in an effort to spread the product's popularity, and officials admit they eventually will have to double the price to stay profitable, but that still makes the briquettes less than half the cost of charcoal. But project developers are moving carefully to promote the briquettes. On the day the briquettes hit the market, charcoal vendors started to have trouble selling their wares, raising tensions between retailers.
.
Massenat, whose neighborhood committee opened the recycling plant, believes charcoal vendors will eventually switch to briquettes as they see the new fuel source is in their and their communities' best interest. "If we're cleaning the streets, we're cleaning their streets. If we're making briquettes by recycling something and protecting the environment, it's good for them," Massenat said. "We're building something for their future and their children's future."
.
Meanwhile, the U.N. peacekeepers' community violence reduction section is pushing ahead with other projects.CVR is trucking young workers from the most violent Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, many of them former gang members, to hillsides to build dry walls that would slow stormwater rushing off the hills and steer it away from vulnerable neighborhoods.
.
And it is encouraging people to grow food in massive urban gardens, echoing a movement that is popular in U.S. cities. "Over 4,000 families grow their food in the urban slums," said Jean Metens, a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization officer in Haiti. "It's mind-boggling, because you'd think of the slums as an area of concrete and no life at all, and they actually grow food."
.
The growing environmental initiatives could hold the key to peacekeeping troops' eventual departure. Nicolini, the aid worker coordinating the recycling project, said the United Nations hopes to be out of the Carrefour Feuilles project by the end of next year. "We see this, in a sense, as buying time until governance can kick in," said Stephanie Ziebell, a U.S. employee of the CVR section.

BBC World Challenge

You dont have to join facebook, click on the link and it will take you to the BBC World Challenge 2009 website.

I don't want to sign up for

I don't want to sign up for facebook but I want to vote for this project. Where/how can I vote?

Post new comment