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 United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Haitian and Norwegian Governments, the Earth Institute, and a consortium of NGOs have launched "The Cote Sud (South Coast) Initiative to rehabilitate degraded land on Haiti's southern claw. The initiative will include reforestation, erosion control, fisheries management, mangrove rehabilitation, and sustainable tourism. If successful, UNEP and partners hope to expand into other regions. A press release follows and additional information is available at the Haiti Regeneration website.
Any discussion on transitioning from emergency relief to development in Haiti must take into account environmental issues. Environmental degradation is a major factor behind decreasing agricultural productivity, hunger and malnutrition, urbanization, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Since the earthquake, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has been working with the Haitian government to build its capacity to address environmental challenges such as marine management, clean energy promotion, and trans-boundary reforestation. A brief summary of UNEP's activities in Haiti follows below.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization's International Centre for Science and High Technology (UNIDO/ICS) reports it is preparing an initiaitve to promote next generation biofuels and biofuel refinery in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. As part of this initiative, UNIDO seeks 35 partners in 25 countries. More details are below. Please pass this on to any potential candidates operating in Haiti.
Lambi Fund is a respected NGO that supports Haitian community groups that are non violent, non partisan, and community based. At the 2009 Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress, Leonie Hermantin, Deputy Director of Lambi Fund, was given the 2009 Community Service award. Lambi Fund is involved in a number of different sectors, but it is really their work in sustainable agriculture and reforestation that won her this honor. Past recipient of the award include Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald and Wyclef Jean of the Yele Foundation. If you would like to learn more about Lambi Fund, attached is their 2008 annual report. The environmental and agricultural sections are copied below.
Many papers, books, and presentations have covered in great detail how Haiti came to be deforested. Fewer have focused on what Haitian government and civil society should do, with the support of the international community, to reverse the environmental destruction. Doing so is neccesary for food security, disaster prevention, nutrition and public health, social/economic stability, and ultimately security. The attached report by the International Crisis Group lists concrete actions that could be taken in the short and long term to promote security through rehabilitating the environment.
Something too often missing from coverage of Haitian development challenges are Haitian perspectives. One of the most pressing concerns remains how to halt and reverse the ongoing environmental degradation. We kick off the "Ask a Haitian" series by interviewing Abdel Abellard, a Ouanminthe based expert in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology, in order to find out what has and has not been working in Haiti.
The United States Institute of Peace is a nonpartisan, independent think tank (or at least as independent as possible given that it was established and funded by Congress.) Its goals are to help prevent and resolve violent international conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and development, and increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide. The Institute has a Haiti Working Group, which meets monthly and is open to anyone interested in Haiti. The Group periodically publishes papers or organizes Haiti related events. Last week, the Working Group held a panel called The End of Poverty in Haiti.