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9020: braking and breaking the charcoal cycle in Haiti (fwd)

From: Stuart M Leiderman <leidermn@cisunix.unh.edu>

dear readers:  a solar cooker manufacturer recently told me, "a year
ago, the U.S. State Department estimated that Haiti's forests would be
gone within three years, meaning, among other things, no indigenous fuel

so, as you read this excerpt describing the commendable introduction of
hundreds of solar cookers, consider how quickly this needs to be
scaled up to match the actual size of the problem...and the rate at which
Haiti's life-support is being consumed and wasted.  imagine a survival
strategy where concerned Haitians and friends of Haiti work together to
simultaneously introduce:

a) millions of solar cookers and other alternatives, with the necessary
   manufacturing, financing, delivery, training and follow-up,
b) a new culture and style of food choice and preparation (for
   example, soaking beans and rice overnight or pressure-cooking
   rather than preparing them from a dead start each morning), and
c) braking (and breaking) the charcoal cycle by a cooperative
   movement that acquires and rations the remain supply, the forests
   from which it derives, and the the land that could resupply charcoal
   at some sustainable rate.

while this may be beyond the capability or interest of solar cooker
companies, I think it is within the grasp of concerned Haitians and
their friends and has huge national employment possibilities.  this kind
of systems approach, which I'll call "Beyond Cookers", deserves priority
among donor agencies, banks, government planners, land reformers,
churches, schools and energy advocates.

thank you for any comments or criticisms,

Stuart Leiderman
Environmental Response

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"Solar Cooking Promotion Grows in Haiti"

excerpted from Solar Cooker Review - August 2000, Volume 6, Number 2

Solar Cookers International  1919 21st Street, #101  Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel. 916-455-4499  Fax 916-455-4498  E-mail: info@solarcookers.org
Solar Cooking Archive:  http://solarcooking.org

- - - - - - -


Solar Energy Program of the Free Methodist Church in Haiti.

We have realized 36 demonstrations  and 13 seminars with 216 people
trained this year. We have multiplied our contacts with non-governmental
and governmental organizations. We have noted the presence of members of
the NGOs in our seminars, such as: World Vision, Christian Service of
Haiti, Floresta, Hope for Haiti's Children, MEBSH (Evangelical Baptist
Mission of Southern  Haiti), World Neighbors and Concern World Wide. Some
governmental organizations are Bureau of Mines, Ministry of the
Environment and Ministry of Public Health.

At the request of one of the leaders at St-Vincent and from the Director
of SHAA (Haitian Society to Help the Blind), a demonstration was
organized with plans for a seminar for the blind  to be held in the near
future.  Many more people were exposed to the program during the year
1999, thanks to our participation at two big fairs.  Our presence at these
fairs showed people that the food products are important but to have fuel
(gas, wood or charcoal) for making them cook is another thing, and solar
energy responds to this problem.  About 1000 handouts were distributed to
the public.  Interviews were given to newspapers, a local periodical
Audience, radio stations and television channels.

We were invited to give a demonstration during the large conference on
community health organized at Kaliko Beach by World Relief.  There were
about thirty doctors and health technicians  (and) representatives of
different organizations such as Words and Action, Hospital of Hope,
Community Hospital, World Vision and Salvation Army. Nine cakes were
cooked in the sun, which enthused the participants to the point that one
of them took the occasion to buy, on the spot, a panel with the
accessories necessary for cooking.

A big seminar was realized at Terre Blanche for three Free Methodist
churches: Finel, Dubdou and Terre Blanche.  There were 22 participants. At
the end of the seminar, three committees were formed, one for each

An organization was born from the program called GAVOL: Groupe Animateurs
Voluntaires (Group of Voluntary Promoters). It is located in different
regions of the country with more than 200 members. They are located at
Gonaives, La Gonve, St-Marc, Marchand Dessalines, Jeremie, Port-au-Prince,
Hinche, Camp-Prin and Anse Rouge. Their responsibility is to organize
demonstrations and seminars where ever they are.

An especially active committee of GAVOL members has been formed in
Gonaives.  They work independently within the framework of our national
Solar Energy Program. They meet and organize demonstrations and seminars
on their own initiative. It is second only to Port-au-Prince at having the
most trained and informed people on solar cooking methods. The Committee
was able to mobilize all the city of Gonaives by means of Tl Star of
Gonaives.  The TV coverage permitted the inhabitants of the city and its
environs to follow, for three weeks, a large part of the seminars.

In their annual plan for the year 2000, the committee foresees training
250 people: 50 at l'Estre, 50 at Carrefour Paye, 50 at Jaco, 50 at
Gonaives and 50 at Ennery. With the repeated demand of former students of
the area for accessible materials, in addition to the already existing
solar outlet store in Port-au-Prince, a mini solar boutique was implanted
at Gonaives and is administered by a member of GAVOL. The ready access of
the materials represents a strong point for the program and its

Many of the people benefiting from the spread of this campaign are
completely uneducated, unable to read, and yet they are able to make
their own CooKits (panels) and to cook foods in them. Because the
participants make their own cardboard cookers, they tend to take good
care of them and are able to easily fabricate another should the need
arise, as surely it will.

The participants pay a fee to attend a seminar. This fee covers the cost
of training and materials. At each training workshop, the participants are
motivated to bring, by consensus, that which was decided upon as food for
the day. They all work to prepare the food together. The participation of
the people at this level, acquiring materials and food, represents an
important element for the future of the solar cooking method in Haiti. At
the end of the seminar, the participant goes home with one panel which she
has made; cardboard, glue and foil enough to make a second one; one
cooking pot, two plastic bags, a grill and a thermometer.

More than 600 people in less than three years have received training on
the methods of fabrication and appropriate technology of the solar panel
cookers. A follow-up questionnaire to the program participants, from a
representative sample, has shown us that 65% of those trained use solar
energy for cooking on sunny days, 20% use it on the weekends, and 15% use
it occasionally or on a whim.

Ms. Land writes that she and her husband are missionaries living in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, since 1981, and they began teaching about solar
cookers in the pastoral training school. She notes:  The able and
dedicated chairman of our national solar committee, Rev. Eliodor
Desvariste, one of the students from the first class I taught  has given
strong leadership to this endeavor. Following a seminar in April 1997, one
of the participants, Hubert Paul Normil, a young man with a university
degree in development, expressed his interest in working in our program. A
timely sizeable monetary gift to the program allowed him to be hired at a
very minimal salary. Not only have we hired Hubert, but we have two
full-time employees, one who works in the solar outlet store located
inside the mission bookstore, and another who works wherever needed,
baking goods for sale or giving demonstrations.

Ms. Land reports that her group has calculated how much charcoal would
have been needed to cook the food prepared at four solar cooking
demonstrations. From that figure they have found "that it is possible to
economize between 50 and 125 gourdes (about $2.60 to $7.00 in US dollars)
per person per month in the savings of charcoal and wood destined for
cooking food. This level of economy is not at all negligible when one
knows how saving is difficult to realize in the poor homes of the urban
and suburban regions.

We want to thank you (SCI) for your efforts at spreading information on
this most important technology. With the ripple effect, your organization
has been responsible for more good than any of us will perhaps ever know.

Contact: Della Land, Eglise Methodiste Libre, Programme Energie Solaire,
Delmas #200-202 (28B), Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

- - - - - - -

Stuart Leiderman, Environmental Response <leidermn@christa.unh.edu>
thanks to Jim McGuy for background material <martha@iglide.net>