Strengthening the capacity for solar cooking in Haiti
Authored by Alan Bigelow, PhD | Science Director, Main Representative of SCI to the United Nations
Haiti has a tremendous solar resource. In early June 2018, I traveled to Haiti with SCI partner Rose Bazile as invited guest speakers for Science Day at the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti UDERS de Hinche, which is in the Centre department in Haiti. The event was organized by an enthusiastic student committee formed less than a year ago and eagerly working toward launching a social entrepreneurship for producing and selling solar cookers and biogas systems. The committee – Comité Biogaz et Recho Solèy – arranged tours of their on-campus biogas system while cake and Haitian food were being solar cooked during the event that attracted some 400 attendees: students from other schools, local stakeholders, politicians, and the media.
SCI is delighted to be a part of a collaboration with SCI partners, including the Public Private Alliance Foundation, Rose Bazile, Solar C3ITIES, Solar Household Energy, Solavore, several SCI Associates and supporters, that is working with this committee to support and encourage them to grow their social entrepreneurship from their home base and also develop curriculum for teaching clean, sustainable cooking technologies. I was impressed to hear from the students that they are fully aware of the deforestation and land degradation occurring in their region and that they are striving to create a better future for themselves and for their country. This is likely just the start of a story that will have impact and “move the needle” for solar cooking in Haiti.
While in Haiti, I also visited other partners and established some new ones in Port-au-Prince. Having met a group working with at-risk girls, the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network (HAGN), a year earlier to brainstorm with their Country Coordinator Myriam Narcisse about how they could add solar cooking to their programs, it was wonderful to see Solavore solar ovens being assembled locally for use at HAGN centers and for baking goods to sell at local markets. These activities are making positive impacts on the lives of young women and strengthening the solar cooking capacity in Haiti.
As solar cooker distribution, assembly and manufacturing initiatives are advancing in Haiti, I was fortunate to have a meeting at the Université d’Etat d’Haiti testing center for clean cookstoves. This center is interested to add solar cooker testing capacity to their offerings and SCI is interested to arrange for a test station for SCI’s Performance Evaluation Process (PEP) for the center. This action would strengthen the capacity for measuring specifications of thermal performance of locally-produced solar cookers, which would benefit customers and manufacturers.
Rose Bazile has been distributing and selling Solavore cookers to women in her home town of Cotes-de-Fer in the Sud-Est department of Haiti. We visited some half dozen of her customers, which gave us the opportunity to practice advice that Maarten Olthof stressed during his presentation on solar cooking projects at the 6th SCI World Conference in India, which was the importance for “training, training, training, and follow up, follow up, follow up.” We also gave presentations and a solar cooking demonstration at the local Hospital Bishop Joseph Sullivan, where the head cook quickly took to solar cooking and realized how her position and skills would make a positive impact on several fronts.
Haitians are resilient people and they realize it is important that they take the lead on the sustainable development for their country. Haitians know they have an abundant solar resource and people we met are eager to increase access to it for their cooking energy. The young generation recognizes the environmental degradation of their surroundings and they crave career opportunities in sustainable development. With SCI partner focus in Haiti, and through donor support, we can collectively strengthen the solar cooking capacity in Haiti.