A US-educated Haitian entrepreneur is being recognised in London this week for the development of a clean, inexpensive cooking stove designed to improve the lives of ordinary Haitians while helping preserve the country’s remaining forests.Duqeusne Fernand is a finalist in this week’s Ashden Awards, recognising individuals and organisations that are “cutting carbon, reducing poverty and improving lives.”
The vast majority of stoves in Haiti require large amounts of charcoal to heat, creating a demand that has decimated the country’s once lush forests and poisoning the air in homes. According to a 2007 study by USAID, the average lifespan in Haiti is shortened by 6.6 years because of the impact of indoor pollution caused by burning charcoal.
But Mantina Lucia’s stove is cleaner and more efficient than most in Haiti. It’s called the Eco Recho stove and its developers at a local non-profit called D & E Green Enterprises, say it’s capable of reducing charcoal consumption by 50% and CO2 emission by 60%.
The stoves are manufactured at D & E’s dusty outdoor yard in Port au Prince. The non-profit, founded by Colombia University graduate, Duqeusne Fernand, employs 45 local staff to manufacture and distribute the stoves.
Fernand says the project was driven by a desire to help his country.
“So I look at that, the traditional stove that we are using and I said ‘what can I do with that stove to make it more efficient?’, and that’s how the idea of doing this cook-stove project started.”
The key component of the stove is a ceramic insert which allows the charcoal fuel to burn more slowly. Not only is it designed to reduce the overall cost of feeding a family, it
is also seen as beneficial in reducing the demand for charcoal which could help preserve the few forest areas that remain in Haiti.
For thousands of poor Haitans, charcoal is the only source of income, but Fernand believes that more projects like his could provide alternative jobs and wean the country away from its informal, charcoal based economy. The statistics are stark; ninety-five percent of households use charcoal to cook while deforestation has left less than two percent of the country’s forests intact.
Mantina Lucia is a big fan of the Eco Recho stove.
“I heard about the stove on the radio so I bought one. Now I use much less charcoal which is great. It really costs much less.”
Fleuri Kethline, who lives nearby, is also a convert.
“I brought one and find it very different than the old one. I don’t need to much charcoal to cook anymore and the sand doesn’t spill around the kitchen, the stove is very hot and cook very fast.”
But for Fernand, the process has not been easy. His newly built factory was destroyed by the massive earthquake of 2010 and after production restarted in tents, a hurricane
blew through Haiti and destroyed them. Fernand says he was on the verge of giving up, but his staff persuaded him to keep going. Three years later, D & E has sold 33,000 stoves…