According to UNDP's 2014 Human Development Report, using HDI (Human Development Index), Haiti is ranked 168th out of 187 countries, the poorest country in America and among the poorest on the planet. About 80% of its people live below the poverty line.
Today, thousands of Haitians still have no access to the usual energy sources. Thus, they have to meet the needs of daily life as best they can. Without any electricity or gas as fuel, even cooking becomes a socio-medical problem. The women have to leave their families for many hours in search of firewood and the lack of dry firewood forces them to use virgin wood. Once burned, this wood produces toxic fumes which are harmful to health. In addition, there is an ecological issue. The continuous use of wood results in uncontrolled deforestation which has reduced the area covered by forest to 3.6%. This has substantial adverse effects on climate and leads to a progressive decrease of available water. The idea to support Haiti by introducing renewable energies, in particular solar energy which is clean, easily accessible, and cost free, was inspired by an analysis of the international scene, which is increasingly focused on zero-impact "technological" solutions.
Moreover Haitians are already accustomed to following the sun's orbit, The "concentrator solar cookers" designed by AFNonlus are simple and easy to maintain. It is also possible to make them with local materials. Thus it is possible to set up a production line and cut down on the costs of importing, shipping and calling out qualified technicians. This makes it easier to roll out the idea of ‘solar cookers' in the community. It should also be noted that the chosen materials are sustainable and biodegradable and the solar cooker is also energy-independent, which means it doesn't require any fuel to be turned on making it environmentally friendly.
Starting point for the project are the 20 schools supported by AFNonlus in Mont-Organisé. An isolated rural community on North-East mountains in the district of Ouanaminthe, Mont-Organisé is the perfect place to start the project: a small microcosm –a reflection of the Haitian macrocosm; where the social impact of the project can be tested and evaluated in order to create a model to roll out throughout the country and, then, in all similar areas of the world.
The general objective is to improve the living conditions of the Mont-Organisé community. On the one hand addressing environmental, agricultural , food issues and the energy supply, and at the same time creating the conditions to foster zero-impact micro-enterprise development.
The main Target group is the 5760 students and their families of the AFNonlus schools in Mont-Organisé. Teachers - indirect beneficiaries – will be the first users and experts of the solar cookers in order to facilitate the project. After a period of training, they will be organized in committees with the objective of explaining about the solar cookers to families in Mont-Organisé.
AFN onlus in Haiti
Since 1985, AFNonlus has been committed (through Support at a Distance) to supporting disadvantaged children in Haiti by increasing the school attendance rate in rural areas and by contributing to the integral development of children with training focused on the universal values of mutual cooperation. Due to widespread illiteracy (35% of the population) most Haitians live at a subsistence level. The hope for possible development is tied to setting up, at least for the children, learning initiatives to help them acquire working skills.
On January 12th 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 hit the interior of Haiti, the most populated area of the country, affecting about 3 million people. There were over 220,000 dead and an estimated economic loss of 7.804 billion dollars. In the aftermath of the tragedy, AFNonlus started a project "Reception Center for Refugees in Mont-Organisé" working together with its local partner "Action contre la Pauvreté du Nord Est – PACNE" to receive families from the devastated areas.
The " Reception Center for Refugees in Mont-Organisé " has enabled the building of a secure and welcoming place to offer practical assistance to families, supporting them in their daily needs to the point of starting agricultural micro-activities to promote self reliance.