Nature Feeds Our Families

Solar ovens are protecting forests and improving livelihoods in Haiti. All photos © Bridget Besaw.

In the village of Tilori, Haiti, many families collect their own wood to cook their food. But as the population here grew, the deforestation problem in this border community grew as well.

Here, the distinction between the Dominican Republic (foreground) and the deforested hills of Haiti is clear.

As trees became scarce, villagers began crossing the border and collecting wood from the protected Sabana Clara Forest.

The Nature Conservancy and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Environment began to tackle the problem in 2009 with an innovative agroforestry project in which villagers planted fruit trees, like mangoes, as a sustainable food and income source, and trees for fuel.

But to reduce the number of trees that were being cut down, Conservancy staff devised a pilot project to offer alternative cooking methods. Idamane Supreme, 33, is one of 30 people to receive a solar oven and energy efficient stove.

Haiti Conservation Coordinator Maxene Atis speaks to a group of Tilori villagers who are part of the combined cooking system pilot project.

The solar oven allows families to cook meals using just the energy of the sun captured and directed from these reflective surfaces into a black box, which holds a pot of food.

Using less wood means Idamane’s family spends less time gathering wood or less money buying it – money she can spend at the biweekly market.

The energy efficient stove (left) for cloudy days or evenings uses much less wood and produces much less smoke than her traditional cooking methods (right).

Smoke inhalation in this mostly enclosed kitchen was giving Idamane headaches and burning eyes. “Before I had the oven, I fell down and hit my head. The doctor told me not to use wood anymore,” Idamane said.

By donating to The Nature Conservancy, you can help us implement projects that help both people and nature.


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