Over the past decade, deforestation and soil erosion have left Haiti more vulnerable to severe weather conditions, causing loss of life, serious damage to infrastructure, and immense economic consequences for the country. Improved cooking technologies are offering a way to improve these conditions.
Without an affordable alternative, most street food vendors in Port-au-Prince use expensive and inefficient charcoal to fuel their cookstoves despite rampant deforestation and health problems associated with charcoal use.
As part of its integrated watershed management approach, the USAID Haiti Watershed Initiative for National Natural Resources (WINNER)
partnered with the Ministry of Environment and a Haitian cookstove manufacturer to help street vendors switch from charcoal to propane gas — a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. As of early 2012, 85 street vendors had switched to 100 propane gas cookstoves (some vendors replacing more than one stove) as part of a pilot project. Each stove will reduce the demand for charcoal by 20,000 pounds a year.
Additionally, the USAID-funded Improved Cooking Technology (Cookstoves)
project complements the work of WINNER by implementing initiatives aimed at reducing charcoal consumption by expanding the market for improved biomass cookstoves and getting institutional users and street vendors to switch to cleaner fuels such as liquid petroleum gas.
Producing a sustainable future for Haiti is an integral part of its development. Approximately 90 percent of Haitian household energy needs are met using firewood and charcoal and at least 30 percent of family income is spent on charcoal for cooking in Port-au-Prince alone. Through improving cooking technology, Haiti is working toward creating a better, more sustainable environment for future generations.