Trees Water & People

Trees, Water & People is committed to improving people's lives by helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends. We believe that natural resources are best protected when local people play an active role in their care and management.
May 31, 2013

Creating Livelihoods with Solar Energy!

Joe Yellow Hawk (right) with his new solar heater
Joe Yellow Hawk (right) with his new solar heater

Trees, Water & People just completed a successful Solar Air Heater Training with eight Native American students from Wyoming, South Dakota, and New Mexico. During the training, two solar heaters were installed at homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota Tribe. These installations gave trainees great hands-on experience with installing the heaters and also provided the families with a new source of clean, free heat from the sun!

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe’s Employment and Training Department sent four members to this training, and will now employ these individuals to install 25 systems for the elderly and disabled in their community. One Eastern Shoshone student explains that she wanted to attend the training because renewable energy will, “help the community and build my resume for future employment.” She is now employed by the tribe installing the solar air heater systems through the summer! 

Earlier in the year, Trees, Water & People began offering online applications for Native Americans to apply for a solar air heater outside of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where our main partner, Lakota Solar Enterprises, is based. Thanks to our robust training program, TWP now has a network of skilled installers on reservations around the country. Funds raised on will support these donated heaters, providing heat to a family, but also providing a source of income to our former students. We have now received 9 applications, and we currently have funding for one solar air heater. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we have that heater installed. Thank you for your support! Your generosity is truly making a difference for Native American families in need.

Building solar heaters
Building solar heaters
Solar heater installation at the Yellow Hawk
Solar heater installation at the Yellow Hawk's


Mar 12, 2013

Milestones and Transitions in Nicaragua

Center for Biomass Energy & Climate Change
Center for Biomass Energy & Climate Change

March 2013 has led TWP to a momentus new milestone in Nicaragua and our long-standing reforestation programs in the country.  This month will see us finally breaking ground, with partner organization Proleña, on our long-awaited Biomass Energy and Climate Change Center (CENADEC) in La Paz Centro, Nicaragua, one hour southeast of Managua.  

CENADEC will be a venue for regional and international students, practitioners and rural communities to learn about efficient and clean renewable energy technologies, as well as adaptation strategies to lessen the impacts of climate change.  Our goal is to create a reference center for the region from which technologies  and approaches to low-carbon development can be developed, taught and deployed.  

The first building we will construct is our ceramics research facility, equipped with proven fuel-efficient kilns to produce specialty pieces for fuel efficient cookstove combustion chambers manufactured in the region.  Concurrently, we will add diverse agro-forestry demonstration plots to test income diversification strategies for rural agricultural communities that can no longer depend on regular rainfall, predictable seed and fertilizer prices, or market prices for traditional crops.

The launch of this center will demand much of our focus in Nicaragua over the coming months, and while we will maintain nursery production of over 120,000 trees per year in the country, we will be closing our "10,000 Trees for Nicaragua" campaign to focus on a successful launch.  We thank you for supporting this project until now, and we encourage you to follow the development of CENADEC as it transforms climate change education and adaptation in the region over the coming years.  

Mar 11, 2013

Fighting Energy Poverty in Haiti

Haitian Charcoal Market
Haitian Charcoal Market

One of the best parts about working for Trees, Water & People (TWP) is the variety of angles from which we approach a problem.  We see access to clean energy as a human right, and believe that providing that access can be a win not only for a family's health and economy, but also for the entire planet.  Daily cooking with wood, charcoal or any other type of biomass is a reality for over 3 billion people on the planet today, and will continue to be a reality for decades or even centuries to come.  Accepting this fact is the first step to approaching the issue practically, holistically, and sustainably - something we strive to do daily in our work.

Over the last 15 years, Trees, Water & People has been leading household energy and reforestation programs in Central America and the Caribbean.  In Haiti, we have been working to reduce the demand for charcoal and firewood since 2007, by designing cookstoves and cookstove programs that are not only more efficient, but that create jobs, and preserve the way people cook - an important aspect of getting a program to stick.  In parallel, we have been working in tree-starved rural areas, from which cooking fuel is extracted and transported to market, understanding that to create full impact, we must focus on creating a more sustainable supply of these fuels while taming demand.

When crops fail due to increasingly unpredictable rains or because a family can't afford fertilizers and quality seed, the sale of charcoal is what puts food on the table that season.  Unfortunately, this practice also consumes over 30 million trees a year in this small, deforested island nation - an unsustainable rate by any measure.  So while we have worked to encourage entrepreneurs in the manufacture and sale of cookstoves that reduce charcoal consumption by 40%, we are also producing over 100,000 trees per year in rural nurseries, and working to diversify farmer income streams in ways that restore rather than extract from their fragile environment.  The next time these farmers need to quickly supplement their income, our intention is that they are able to sell fruits, poles from coppicing trees, and eventually lumber, rather than taking down a tree to produce 60lbs of charcoal at $0.10/lb.  

Charcoal is a way of life in Haiti.  This campaign you have supported for the last several years has helped us move toward a more sustainable future for charcoal consumers and for entrepreneurs in urban areas, but has also led us to examine the intricacies of the charcoal value chain, upstream to farmers throughout the country.  We ask you to continue your support for this important cause by helping us reach this campaign's goal, and by continuing to follow  our work at  Thanks to all who have made this work possible, and to all of our friends in Haiti who make our work such a pleasurable and educational experience.  

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