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 www.treeswaterpeople.org. 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.
Recently, Haiti Program Manager Jean Gabriel took a batch of Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) cookstoves on a journey north from Port-au-Prince, to see how people in other markets would respond to it. Since most of the improved cookstove work going on in Haiti has been centered in the capital city, many communities outside of the capital have yet to learn of the various alternatives available to help them reduce their demand for charcoal. After visiting these communities, Jean found fertile ground to begin introducing the ZPB in other markets.
A visit to the north coast proved to be very productive. In partnership with an organization out of Ouanaminthe, on the Dominican border, Jean gave a cookstove demonstration to workers near an industrial park on the north coast of the country, which will provide employment to thousands once it is in full operation. From there he shared the cookstove with the team at Sustainable Organic Integarted Livelihoods (SOIL) in Cap Haitien - our partners in the region. SOIL's staff were enthusiastic about the design, and are exploring ways to offer the stoves within their service package.
Currently, Jean is in the Central Plateau of Haiti, looking for potential sites to manufacture the stove outside of Port-au-Prince. While the capital city represents the largest concentration of charcoal users in the country (up to 70% of all charcoal consumers), it is exceedingly expensive to work there, which increases costs of the cookstoves - a major barrier to adoption. Two potential manufacturing sites have been identified in the Central Plateau near Hinche, which is a geographically strategic outpost as well, as it gives us access to the wide-open markets in central and northern Haiti.
We will continue to keep you informed of all the advances in our Haiti clean cookstove program. New partnerships and new sites from which to operate hold promise for an exciting 2013. We thank you for being a part of the story!
Trees, Water & People's Haiti Program Manager, Jean Gabriel, continues to deliver in Port-au-Prince, expanding the Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) sales force to include vendors in four other Haitian cities. Since our last Global Giving report, hundreds of stoves have been sold, and prototyping work has started on a new double burner cookstove. From our years of work in the sector, we know that replacing one burner in a biomass fuel-dependent household only solves half the problem.
The double burner model we are developing is two fuel-efficient charcoal stoves in one body – a solution not currently offered in the Haitian marketplace, apart from those we sell through our vendors. Our current goal is to bring the cost of this unit down while keeping quality and durability high. Purchasing power in Haiti’s urban areas is still low, so we work to educate people on how an investment like this pays for itself in a matter of weeks in fuel savings alone. Results with lay-away and micro-credit have been growing – we know that once the stove is in a users hands, they will not want to return to their previous stoves.
Your donations are what is driving the successes of this program. Our long-term goals are to make the ZPB a locally owned product, manufactured, marketed and sold by a network of local entrepreneurs. We are far enough down the road to know that the product is solid and sought after, and now we are focusing on how to make the venture sustainable. This includes developing a robust market for replacement parts, compiling a network of artisans who can repair and refurbish the stove, and organizing all these entrepreneurs under a common banner, knowing that this gives our program the best chance of expanding long after we are gone.
The challenge is big, and we can only tackle it with your help. Thank you for your support!
With more than 15 vendors recruited to sell the Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) Cookstove at different points throughout Port-au-Prince, Trees, Water & People’s Haiti Program Manager, Jean-Marie Gabriel, has taken to the TWP cookstove program like a fish to water. This is only moderately surprising – he grew up in Port-au-Prince, and his 10 years in the U.S. have not allowed him to forget the ins and outs of this vast, urban labrynth. His strategy is methodical: identify popular retailers of common goods in high-traffic sectors of the city, build a relationship, show them the product, and invite them to be trained at TWP’s Port-au-Prince office.
Most accept. Once there, the group of vendors is shown an educational presentation about deforestation, the impact of excessive charcoal use on a family’s budget and the environment, and how the Zanmi Pye Bwa can help to alleviate these impacts. Features and benefits of the stove are highlighted, and the vendors are encouraged to come up with sales tactics – an innovative, interactive challenge that leads to role-play, laughter, and confidence that the ZPB cookstove has value that other stoves do not.
The Zanmi Pye Bwa pays for itself in a matter of six weeks, and then saves users hundreds of dollars in its first year of use. Apart from that, it provides a healthy profit margin and a new source of income to vendors who typically only make a few dollars a day. The first batch of 10 stoves is given on consignment, but almost all have come back for more with a handful of cash – half to pay off the first batch, and half to purchase new stock.
To keep the venture as sustainable as possible, we focus on keeping retail prices high enough to cover materials costs of the stove, and fundraising to pay for the labor required to produce more. This strategy leads us to work with only the most motivated vendors who are willing to learn, develop their sales skills, and stand behind a product that will cost their customers 5 times more than the less-efficient local alternative, but which will deliver previously unimaginable savings to families that depend on charcoal daily to feed their families.
Please join us in fueling this growing program, and creating a better future for the charcoal-dependent families of Haiti’s urban areas.
To learn more about Haiti Clean Cookstove Program and to make a donation please visit www.treeswaterpeople.org.
It gives us great pleasure to welcome the newest member of the Trees, Water & People (TWP) family, Jean Marie Gabriel. Jean is our new Haiti Program Manager, and will be living in Port-au-Prince representing TWP locally, and moving our projects forward.
Jean was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, and held a diverse array of occupations before moving to the United States to pursue University in 2000. Most interesting to us was his work in the banking sector, working as a Loan Officer for Fond d’Assistance aux Entrepreneurs Moyens (Fund for the Assistance of Medium Entrepreneurs - FAEM) and as a Service Agent for one of Haiti’s biggest banks, Sogebank.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University and while completing a Master of Public Administration degree from Marist College in New York, Jean helped to found the Knowledge is Wealth Learning Center, an alternative education service for low income residents in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Jean is a proven leader and we are thrilled to have him managing our clean cookstove and reforestation efforts in Haiti. Currently, he is in the process of setting up our in-country office, and setting TWP up for success in the coming years. Please join us in welcoming Jean to the team by supporting TWP in 2012!
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