Here’s news that is at once somber, inspiring, and uplifting. One of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti suffers from many structural problems and natural disasters: Deforestation, pollution, high unemployment, and infrastructure still devasted by the 2010 earthquake. One Haitian entrepreneur came up with a solution that will address all of these problems in one accessible, deceptively simple product: an eco-friendly stove that requires 50% less coal than traditional stove widely used in Haiti.
Duquesne Fednard is the founder of D&E Enterprises, which produces the EcoRecho. His story is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching: after his first factory was destroyed by the earthquake in 2010, Fednard pulled together to continue making stoves by hand in tents. Then Hurricane Sandy tore up even those tents in fall 2012–but instead of giving up, Fednard and his staff have soldiered on, producing more than 33,000 stoves to date. Their tenacity, will power, and optimism are truly humbling and inspiring.
These fuel-efficient stoves might look Wall-E cute but pack a huge environmental and economic punch. Here are some stats:
1. Reduce pollution: Haiti, like other developing countries, relies primarily on wood and coal for fuel. Indoor burning of these fuels results in high rate of Acute Lower Respiratory Illness (ALRI). Sadly, ALRI is the number 1 killer of children under 5, not just in Haiti, but in the entire developing world.
2. Reduce deforestation: In 1923, 63% of Haiti was forested. Now, that number is 1.5%. This lack of foliage and consequent erosion are the reasons why natural disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes, not just damage but completely devastate Haiti.
3. Help reduce poverty: EcoRecho doesn’t simply add 400 jobs in manufacturing, distribution, and sales, it also helps its consumers save up to $150 (US dollar) in fuel costs. The average Haitian family spends a staggering 1/4 of income for fuel. This means these fuel cost savings have a major impact for struggling families.
I think that biggest positive changes in the world come from ground up–which is why I believe in the power of veganism–and this is an incredible example of that. There is something you can do to help Fednard: He is raising funds on IndieGogo to build a new factory, so that they can return to working full capacity. This is the kind of project that I really can believe in, and representing Peaceful Dumpling, I’m going to also pledge. His goal is $70,000 and he’s raised only $401 so far–there is just three weeks to go, so please pitch in if you can!
Also read: Must See Movie: Blackfish
Photo: Duquesne Fednard