by Evan Schoepke of PermaCorps International
The massive earthquake of Jan 14th 2010 that crippled the infrastructure of Haiti and claimed the lives of thousands hasn‘t destroyed the spirit of the Haitian people or their will for the social, economic, and ecological regeneration of their country. Permaculture oriented first and second responders from all around the globe have answered the call to work alongside local Haitians and aid in the reconstruction efforts wherever possible and for as long as needed. From natural building reconstruction to alternative technology permaculture is making it’s presence felt for the long term recovery of Haiti.
There are currently 1.3 million people homeless and over 300,000 are children making sanitation a matter of life and death in Haiti. Andrew Larsen, Rodrigo Silva, Nicole Klaesener-Metzner and Hunter Heaivilin have been working diligently in Port Au Prince on critical sanitation needs especially in the areas around orphanages and hospitals. Educating Haitians on how to build and maintain composting toilets has proven a huge success in reducing the threat of spreading infections.
Marisha Auerbach is a PermaCorps for Haiti advisory board member who worked in northern Haiti in an area near Limbe on a permaculture relief project focused on local food security and ecological regeneration. Marisha and her close friend and fellow NW permaculture educator Kelda Miller joined Rosedanie Cadet of Helping Hands Noramise and traveled to the outskirts of Limbe, Haiti along with other US volunteers. This team worked with Haitians in the surrounding community on building the foundations of a no-till permaculture food forest that will aid in the restoration of the local soil quality, food diversity, and overall ecology of the area. In all regions of Haiti food security is a critical issue as it has been difficult for families in the countryside taking care of internally displaced relatives to meet their basic needs while also planting crops for the future. Currently, the torrential rains make this a even more challenging as precious limited topsoil is often washed down stream due to extreme deforestation. The Limbe team helped plant breadfruit, guava, papaya, mango, cacao, coffee, citrus, pumpkins (joumou), spinach (zepina), okra (gumbo), melon (melon), tomatoes (tomat), onions (zonjion), carrots (karot), etc, as well as, set up swales to harvest water and stop sheet flow from washing away vital soil nutrients .
Nathanial Mulcahy the founder of World Stove based in Italy has been in country for over two months teaching Haitians how to build pyrolictic cook stoves that are extremely efficient, create little air pollution, and produce carbon rich biochar from biomass fuels. These amazing stoves (sometimes decorated and made from salvaged materials) are being distributed as quickly as possible to communities in need. Nathan hopes to work with permaculturalist in the near future on joint education and installation efforts to provide technical knowledge to Haitians on best practices about how to use biochar coupled with composting and other permaculture techniques such as water harvesting for local agro-forestry projects. It is Nathan’s hope that by building these stoves not only will many Haitians be employed, but that also the biochar produced will boost the soil fertility in the areas around affected communities immensely. Kevin Rowell of Kleiworks who is working closely with Jeffree Trudeau of the World Bamboo Organization and other large NGO‘s on natural building reconstruction wishes to see the world stove be a feature in every ecologically rebuilt home in Haiti. This is just a small sampling of the permaculture work being done in Haiti to find out more about how you can help support permaculture oriented long term reconstruction efforts visit our volunteer page.