Any discussion on transitioning from emergency relief to development in Haiti must take into account environmental issues. Environmental degradation is a major factor behind decreasing agricultural productivity, hunger and malnutrition, urbanization, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Since the earthquake, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has been working with the Haitian government to build its capacity to address environmental challenges such as marine management, clean energy promotion, and trans-boundary reforestation. A brief summary of UNEP's activities in Haiti follows below.
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.
The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) has announced that it will significantly expand investment in renewable energy throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB intends to spend one billion in Haiti to help develop a new energy infrastructure powered by wind, solar, and hydroelectricity. The current fuel shortage in Haiti underscored the importance of renewable, domestic energy for the country's long term development. Click here for a video clip of IDB President Moreno explaining the new initiative. A fact sheet is also attached. I'll include more information as I find it.
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.
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 email@example.com
The Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) has released a "Call for Applications" for its first business plan competition in Haiti, Konkou Biznis Ayiti. The contest's theme is the commercialization of biogas in Northern Haiti. The contest winner will receive up to $50,000 in financial support from AIDG, and training on both biogas sytems and enteprise management. The contest deadline is March 6th, 2009. Applicants must be Haitian citizens. The offical press release is copied below.
We frequently receive inquiries concerning the use of Jatropha as a biofuel in Haiti. So far, cultivation has been limited to a handfull of pilot projects. This blog lists these organizations and summarizes several recent articles on the subject. A previous blog on biodiesel resulted in over 225 comments from people throughout the world interested in Jatropha. If you are interested specifically in jatropha cultivation in Haiti, please post a comment describing your interests. In that way, this blog can become a conversation about tapping the potential of Jatropha for Haiti.
Is the third time the charm? Prime Ministerial Candidate number three Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis was approved in a 61-1 vote in Haiti’s lower legislative chamber. Sexism, homophobia, and power politics could yet derail this nomination. Haiti needs a Prime Minister in order to have a functional government that can tackle developmental challenges, chief among them food insecurity.
Maybe I should call this blog the Fuel Security update instead. The big news this past week was the elimination of the government gasoline subsidy which drove fuel prices up to over six dollars a gallon. With limited funds and infinite needs, the government decided to focus its attention on agriculture and other programs to fight poverty. However, transporting food and other commodities (or oneself if seeking health care) is less affordable now and out of reach for many. The tap-taps are all charging more. Also, the price hike is eating into the budgets of the international and non-governmental organizations which are active throughout the country. More money on fuel means less for programs.