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.
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.  

Mar 4, 2013

Tribal Program Featured in Indian Country Today

Indian Country Today article
Indian Country Today article

Henry Red Cloud, Trees, Water & People's Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner, was recently featured in Indian Country Today. The feature story, titled “The Renewable Energy Revolution,” highlights Henry’s efforts to bring renewable energy and green jobs to tribal lands of the United States.

“My biggest dream is for First Nations communities to be energy independent before mainstream America.” – Henry Red Cloud

Henry Red Cloud owns and operates Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), one of the nation’s first Native American-owned and operated renewable energy companies. In partnership with Henry and LSE, Trees, Water & People’s Tribal Program has built and installed more than 800 solar heating systems for families living on tribal lands across the country. In addition, TWP and Henry train Native Americans in a wide variety of renewable energy applications, including solar, wind, geothermal, and sustainable building. Together, TWP and Henry also co-manage the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. RCREC is a place where tribes from around the country receive hands-on training in renewable energy applications from fellow Native Americans.


Click here to read the full Indian Country Today article!


Feb 20, 2013

The Gift of Heat

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our "Help Provide Solat Heater Repairs" Project! With your support, the Tribal Renewable Energy Program has initiated its first official conduit for offering maintenance to recipients of our solar air heating systems. While you contributed directly to the repair of 10 heaters, you have done so much more by giving us the support we need to officially launch this important service.

Native American families from across the Great Plains can now alert us to any heater repair and maintenance needs. Upon receiving applications for assistance, we will contract with certified Solar Air Heater Technicians, trained at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, to provide these repairs. Thank you for bringing heat to families and green jobs to people in some of the most economically depressed areas of our country.

Before we receive our first official applications for repairs, we are getting right to work on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where we already know of families who need a little technical assistance with their systems. It means so much to this program and the families we serve to be able to keep all of our donated solar heaters running properly, keeping families warm during these harsh winter months! The majority of these heaters last for 20 years without requiring repair, but (like most home appliances) some simply need $15-$45 worth of new parts to function like new. Your sharing and generosity have provided this renewed service for only a fraction of the cost of a new heating system.

Thank you for providing the gift of heat to Native American families in need! Was-te!

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