by Daniel Schnitzer
The other day I visited Nothude Tilus, Director of the Association des Cadres pour la Protection de l’Environment (ACAPE) at her office in Les Cayes. ACAPE is pioneering the demonstration of “charbon alternatif” by producing Haiti’s cooking fuel of choice, charcoal, from alternative sources like sugarcane husks, coconut shells and cassava’s (“majnoc” in Haitian Creole) toxic juice. The organization receives training from MIT’s Amy Smith and her students. Together, they have also taught local metal fabricators to build their innovative charcoal briquette presses.
ACAPE’s staff has passed on their knowledge and technology by giving free seminars to groups of 10-20 farmers, who also receive all the necessary tools and equipment for charbon alternatif production. These groups become teams, producing charcoal in a way that will not exacerbate Haiti’s raging deforestation.
In just two years, this small organization has given over 60 seminars, enabling as many groups. Follow-up with the groups has solicited positive feedback, with team members using, giving away or selling the charcoal they produce.
ACAPE very much hopes to see its vision of a Haiti independent of wood-based charcoal, but, as they told me, they lack a clear way forward. What is lacking is a model for achieving scale, but more about this problem in a future post.
Take a look at pictures of ACAPE in action.