CHIBAS is a bio-fuels and sustainable agriculture research center in Haiti with a particular interest in promoting the cultivation of Jatropha, a plant already used in Vodoun ceremonies and as a natural fence to protect crops. According to CHIBAS, Jatropha has the potential to advance food and energy security in Haiti while building rural economies. Below is a summary of the newest CHIBA piece on Jatropha's potential in Haiti. You can also find the complete paper (with graphics) on the CHIBAS website.
It is no secret that the environmental degradation caused by Haiti's over-reliance on wood fuels negatively impacts the country's ability to feed itself, to prevent disasters, and to protect the health and nutritional status of its children. After the earthquake, many people are now finding themselves more reliant than ever on wood charcoal, while having less money with which to pay for it. Securing access to alternative, inexpensive fuel sources is key to Haiti's future. Yet no one agency owns this issue. To address the need for increased attention, resources, and coordination, the Women's Refugee Commission and the World Food Program carried out a joint assessment of cooking needs in post earthquake Haiti, attached and copied below.
"Mesi" to Nicholas Kristof for his article below in defense of the Haitian people. Development "experts" and religious "leaders" alike have put forth their own theories, ranging from fatalism to God's will, to explain Haiti's poverty. Friends of Haiti know that Haitians are a strong, proud people who did not deserve what has happened to them. As Kristof writes, " ...the implication of belated seismic revenge on Haitian children seems defamatory of God." Haitians have made it through natural and man-made disasters before this. While Haiti won't be the same, it will recover - the ultimate rebuttal to those who say it cannot.
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.
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!
When preparing to return to the US from my Peace Corps experience in Haiti, I was told don’t be surprised when someone asks you to describe this life changing experience, after 5 minutes don’t be surprised when they’re no longer listening. This was some great advice and so now when people ask me, “What’s Haiti like?” I find myself inevitably doing two things; first launching into curt clichés, ‘poorest country in the western hemisphere’, ‘greatest nightmare on earth’, ‘surrealism has a country’, or whatever rant I’m on that day or week but regardless I find myself always adding "...but it’s still a Caribbean island." To me that means there are still paradisiacal destinations to be found and indulge in here, but mostly for the adventurous.
Here's the good news - the first hurricane of 2009 passed on by. The bad news is that we've got a long way to go until hurricane season is over. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that there will be seven to eleven named storms in the Atlantic before the end of November, with the potential for three to six hurricanes. As we saw last year, tropical storms can wreck havoc on both crops and infrastructure. Humanitarian responders are gearing up.
Haiti's long term development depends on agriculture. Yet most of Haiti's population relies on what could be called a faith based approach to agriculture - pray you get enough rain at the right time. Ressurecting Haiti's agricultural sector requires effective irrigation systems. Below is a description of an irrigation project that USAID completed with IOM and CHF in the Plaine de Cul de Sac outside of Port au Prince. The photo above illustrates what the waterways were like before the project...
Copied below is an article published last year in Biodiesel Magazine. It may be worth revisiting given several interesting videos that Haiti Xchange noticed on the Haiti Biodiesel Industry website. The first video concerns a group in Port au Prince that is converting used cooking oil into biofuel. One of the members is using it in Haiti's first biofuel powered truck. Another demonstrates a fully functional bio-stove. Finally, there is a video of a biofuel powered generator. Readers can discuss biofuels in the Haiti Biodiesel Forum. Dialogue is needed given the many unanswered questions concerning the potential of biofuels in Haiti. What is the position of the goverment? How best to coordinate among the grassroots organizations, government ministries, and private sector? What do pilot projects require to be brought to scale? Perhaps the June Jatropha conference that CHIBAS is hosting can shed light on these issues.
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