It’s Tuesday—market day. Idamane Supreme leaves her husband and children and heads down the dusty hill, past hundreds of neighbors milling around in front of their small homes. At 9 am, it’s already starting to get hot.
The main road that leads into this Haitian village is teeming with life. Trucks, donkeys, goats and people are all trying to stay out of each other’s way. Women and men display their goods on colorful cloths that line the side of the road.
Idamane works her way through the crowd, buying groceries for the week: rice, beans, plantains, oil, sugar and vegetables. She negotiates for a live chicken, which she carries home by its feet.
When she gets back home, she does something that only a few dozen other women in this village of 3,000 get to do: she pulls out a box, finds a spot in the sun and sets up a solar oven.
An Alternative Source of Fuel
This project is an example of how The Nature Conservancy is doing impactful work in a way that incorporates both the needs of nature and local communities.
Tilori lies on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the edge of the Sabana Clara Forest Reserve. As the trees around Tilori began diminishing, villagers began crossing into the forest reserve to gather wood for cooking, having to go further and further each time and disrupting the ecological health of the forest reserve.
The Conservancy worked with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Environment and developed an innovative agroforestry project in 2009. The project began with villagers planting fruit trees as a sustainable food and income source and fast growing woody trees that, once mature, could provide fuel.
In late 2011,in a joint effort with Solar Household Energy Inc., a second component was added: a pilot project in which 30 families in the Tilori area received a solar oven and an energy-efficient stove for evenings or cloudy days.
“50 goud [Haitian currency] of wood used to last us one week and now it can last us three weeks,” Idamane says. “We used to go more often to get wood, and now we have to go a lot less often.”