Haiti is over 95% deforested, largely due to the population’s reliance on charcoal as the primary cooking fuel. Finding a sustainable alternative cooking fuel that is accessible and affordable for residential and commercial use is a top priority not only in the effort to slow the deforestation, but also to provide cleaner and more efficient means of cooking for the Haitian people. Fuego del Sol is implementing a sustainable, scalable, and replicable solution, producing fuel briquettes from materials commonly available in Haiti, including recycled paper, cardboard, wood and agricultural waste.
Fuego del Sol has introduced and implemented ecological cooking solutions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic since 2007. We’ve designed and implemented recycling programs, produced ecostoves with local labor following Fair Trade principles, created and implemented an adoption process for ecostoves and designed recycled fuel briquettes.
Today, we are a leader in the development of briquettes and ecological cooking solutions in Haiti. We’ve developed a new model briquette press and recycling system for creating and distributing highly efficient briquettes made from 100% recycled materials. These briquettes are currently being used in World Food Program sponsored school feeding operations, and we hope will eventually be used in households and small businesses throughout the country.
We are partnering with the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Program (WFP), the International Lifeline Fund and now we are grateful to the support of the Clinton Foundation that is enabling us to scale up and diversify our operation. With this support, Fuego del Sol is creating 20 jobs for individuals still working to recover from the earthquake. As we grow, we continue to test the briquettes and we are constantly refining our process for maximum efficiency and affordability. Fuego del Sol operates as a social business, and the briquette business has proven financially sustainable to cover costs of employees, management, material sourcing, and the facility through the sale of briquettes to the WFP.
Many schools in Haiti (public or private) are entrusted to feed the students at least one meal per day. With a population of roughly 10 million, a majority of which are under 20 years old, the UN estimates indicate that there are 115,200 elementary schools currently serving this entire population. The WFP estimates that each school in the program uses an average of 1000 briquettes per month, so the long-term full scale demand for briquettes is significant. By introducing the briquettes through school feeding programs, we can reach a wide audience and prove the effectiveness of the briquettes through trusted community liaisons.
We have so far delivered more than 200,000 briquettes to the WFP, and based on our calculations, that means we have saved an estimated 8,000 trees already. Our briquettes are currently being made from recycled paper and cardboard, and as we grow we will explore options for using agricultural waste as well. Eventually, we believe that Haiti can become cooking-fuel energy independent, which can be exemplary for the entire developing world.
Briquettes are a simple and effective alternative to charcoal for Haiti. As ongoing deforestation may force the price of charcoal to rise, briquette prices should remain consistent providing further incentive for local adoption. Further, briquettes and eco-stoves can be deployed more easily than propane, since briquettes require no importation of materials nor elaborate infrastructure for distribution. The Fuego del Sol Recycled Briquette and Eco-Stove Project is scaling up just in time to assist Haiti in the major socio-ecological development of moving beyond cooking with charcoal to sustainable biomass cooking.
You can help address deforestation in Haiti by taking the Clinton Climate Quiz. When you take the quiz a tree will be planted in Haiti.