Have you ever heard the old adage: “If you give a man a fish, you’ve fed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” This is a principle that is very near and dear to us who believe in the Eden Reforestation Project. I’ve been researching this ever since I got back from Haiti, and I’ve been compiling lists of resources, articles and ideas. An idea I ran across today has very great merit and potential to solve some of the problems that we see in Haiti.
As I’ve written in the past, Haiti’s number one problem is deforestation. The earthquake was a tragedy, but many, including me, see deforestation as having caused the overcrowding in the cities like Port Au Prince and that led to larger loss of life when the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010. Another factor that I’ve come across is that the aid we’ve been pouring in to Haiti over the past 50 years has backfired – we feed them, so there’s little incentive for farmers to grow food! Where do all those people have to go to get the food aid? To the cities, again, such as Port Au Prince. The farmers have no choice in the matter, they cannot grow food and compete with the “free” food coming in to the country in the form of food aid, so you cannot blame them for their reduced food production.
So, what is the solution? How do we stop feeding them fish and start teaching them (and other countries, notably many poorer African countries) to fish for themselves? It’s not easy. But, it can be done! In Ethiopia, the Eden Reforestation Project (ERP) has just finished planting the 10 millionth tree! They have started to see rivers and streams flow again! We’ve got to teach folks to use something else for fuel (other than wood and charcoal) for cooking as well though, or there is no hope for long-term success. So, in my poking around today, I found the “World Stove.” Check it out:
Pretty darn cool! I found it because they had just finished a 2 month pilot project in Haiti, and they have started production of these stoves down there. The stove itself is simple, easy to manufacture from readily available materials, and it can be modified to run on either alcohol or “pellets” made from various organic material. This is hopeful! I contacted the ERP folks to let them know about this new stove that’s going to become increasingly available. I don’t know if it’s available in Ethiopia and other African countries as of yet, so I contacted the folks at World Stove to inquire about that.
Please pray that some of these ideas can come together to help solve the problems in Haiti and Africa! And of course, visit the ERP web site:
And … Get involved!