With post-earthquake prices of charcoal having nearly doubled in Haiti, women are forced to spend increasing amounts on cooking fuel while families without reliable sources of revenue often go hungry. In an attempt to bring relief Project Gaia began planning in early March for an urgent stove and fuel intervention. Initially Project Gaia sought to provide immediate assistance and a means to cook the food graciously donated by various organizations. However, over the course of the ensuing months Project Gaia’s plans evolved into a vision whose potential was realized during a recent 10-day visit to Haiti June 8-18.
Addressing communities most affected by the earthquake is still a priority for Gaia. With the collaboration of an integral team of experienced Haitian-American engineers and investors, a long-term market-based solution will be applied to revolutionize Haiti’s fuel industry and to create a sustainable solution to Haiti’s cooking crises.
Expectations are high amongst the Project Gaia Team thanks to many successful partnerships formed during the recent trip to Haiti. A potential local distribution and manufacturing team have been identified thus affording Haiti the benefits of an in-country project base. Having a strong set of Haitian partners to manage certain aspects of the project will afford a level of efficacy, efficiency and innovation not otherwise available if efforts are coordinated outside the country. For the project to eventually be sustained by domestic groups is an essential detail, whose priority continues to be emphasized by Project Gaia across the globe.
Upon finalizing accords with the CleanCook Stove’s manufacturer and its potential distributor, Project Gaia will begin pilot studies in two highly organized tent communities run by non-profit organizations (Grace International and Viva Rio) in Port-au-Prince and the Marigot Harmony Elementary School located near Jacmel.
Project Gaia staff has much to be excited about as arrangements surrounding contractual agreements and preparations for Haiti’s pilot study are now set in motion. Moreover, visits to several different micro distilleries demonstrated Haiti’s potential to eventually produce its own bioethanol and a meeting with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs confirmed the Haitian Government’s support for Project Gaia’s efforts.
The key elements for a successful CleanCook Stove project are thus present – need, interest, and a solid foundation. As Project Gaia moves forward to develop a greener, cleaner and healthier Haiti, the entire world will be watching.