Saving Haiti’s Forests One Briquette at a Time


An early stage initiative in one of Haiti’s poorest and most violence-racked neighborhoods is putting people to work, turning waste into fuel and raising hopes to reverse the deforestation which has been Haiti’s most worrisome environmental challenge. As Scientific American reports, efforts are underway to produce briquettes used to boil water and cook food from collected waste paper. The paper briquettes offer the advantages of being far cheaper to purchase, of burning hotter and more cleanly, and more significantly of not being made from virgin timber.

Haiti’s political turmoil and unrest have left its citizens with little choice but to raze nearly all of its forests for fuel in order to survive. 98 percent of Haiti’s forests are gone, and the hope is that the alternate fuel source derived from waste will spread from the troubled Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood throughout the country, providing work and a critical commodity that performs better and costs less.

All the more inspiring is that this recycling and production effort rose from the grassroots upward. From the tumult of rampant violence and crushing poverty, the community rose up to respond to their situation and address their needs, creating work for hundreds of local residents and bringing, albeit slowly, an increasing sense of hope and stability to their community. Facility president Patrick Massenat is quoted by Scientific American as stating that “we helped to create the conditions that made it possible for [UN peacekeepers] to come and protect us.”

Originally reported by

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