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Haitian Biomass Stoves to Help Refugees Worldwide: Keep Haitians from becoming refugees with local jobs while also utilizing refugee labor.

Inefficient stoves worsen life for refugees globally; millions of Haitian refugees are in the D.R: Export Haitian eco-stoves to ref. camps!

Photo of Kevin Adair
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

The most dangerous activity in many refugee and IDP settlements is gathering fuel for cooking. Mostly women are called upon to walk in dangerous unprotected areas near the camps for firewood that is more and more scarce. FdS efficient biomass stoves, produced in Haiti and available for increase wood combustion efficiency by over 4X, and by utilizing wood instead of charcoal in FdS stoves efficiency is improved 40+X. By utilizing available labor in settlements, stoves sent from Haiti can be assembled locally. Thus over twice as many stoves-parts can be sent for the same cost as the fully assembled stoves. The stoves can also utilize any available waste materials for cooking, including any local biomass waste (corn cobs / rice husks / peanut shells / packaging cardboard / etc). The jobs created in Haiti through making the stove-parts keep Haitians from becoming refugees as many are now in the Dominican Republic. Estimates as high as 2,000,000 Haitian refugees live illegally in the Dom. Rep. with no documentation and extremely limited access to education or healthcare. Many earn their survival with high-risk, terrible-pay, unreported jobs in the sugarcane industry. Since Haiti has over 70% underemployment, there is little-to-no incentive to establish legal residency in Haiti -- many have never lived in Haiti, as it was their grandparents who emigrated to the DR, but the grandchildren are doomed to their family's fate with no options for DR citizenship. Providing jobs for Haitians in Haiti is much preferable. Globally, many refugees in settlements are not allowed to work, so their available work-hours can be utilized in the stove-assembly process thus reducing costs and shipping requirements for the stove-parts. Also, if the location has available biomass waste, many varieties can be transformed into fuel briquettes which can burn efficiently in FdS stoves, and cannot be used without the efficient stoves. Exporting stove-parts from Haiti addresses multiple issues.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Unlike other similarly developed states, Haiti has many positive long-term indicators: no war or water shortage, perfect climate / location for renewable energy, and no nearby states to contribute to Haiti’s lack of development. They have chronic hobbling factors, like their lack of roadway infrastructure, access to proper sanitation, and dwindling supply of dirty cooking fuel: charcoal. While providing 300K jobs, the industry destroys 10lb of wood for each 1lb of charcoal produced.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

FdS could bridge the gap between the R&D of 8-generations of eco-stove improvements with the needs and underutilized labor of refugee/ IDP settlements. The FdS cooking system is versatile in that it can utilize any available fuel materials. We could use a “Send One, Deliver Two” (“SODT” ) system that could be adopted in all NGO projects. For stoves it would mean that the total cost of sending one assembled stove is the same as two self-assembled stoves by the end-user in the settlements.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

The most basic need that is missing in both Haiti and settlements globally - the need that allows for the germination of higher-order needs such as joy, hope, and dignity is the need to be productive and provide for one's family. Doctors, professors, engineers, artists, farmers, and other 100% self-sustained productive human family members are running for their lives to avoid themselves and their families being killed. Then, they arrive in some form of physical safety, and they are not allowed to work for fear of taking jobs away from local people. This concept has to change. Jobs are not a zero-sum-game. Productivity begets productivity. Unlike so many NGOs in Haiti, FdS follows the jobs-not-gifts policy. What people need is the ability to use their talents to support their families. Gifts lead to further dependency. Jobs lead to self sustainability. FdS advocates empirical research and establishing a jobs standard for all NGO work: judge projects based on the number of jobs created.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The concept: "Send One; Deliver Two" can improve many developmental and humanitarian applications to benefit local communities. Food donations, for example, can be harmful if given to the general public. These donations should go to medical, educational and civil development programs. Feeding kids in a school-canteen makes the kids ready to learn and is much less dependency-harmful than donations to the general public. Food should be delivered in the largest packages possible to avoid individual plastic packaging waste. And, for each bag of food that is donated (sent) a similar bag of food should be purchased from a local farmer. Then international actions are not harming the local economies, but expanding the local markets. This change, along with an open-door policy allowing donors to visit implementation sites would allow for much more follow-up and follow-through. FdS is pioneering this revolution in the development sector. Please see our attached 50-page paper: Change is Hard.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

One of the strongest inspirations for FdS Haiti is the Haitian concept of “Konbit.” Traditionally, when a community has a large project that needs to be accomplished individuals can work together to make it happen. Too often, people of any society forget the concept of Konbit, but FdS works to remember and program based on working together. Konbit is expressed in the FdS concept of Listen. Lead. Listen again. We operate with an open-door, open-source policy, working to include the concepts of practically all of the Haitians and the internationals sharing at FdS together. We have many additional inspirations, from Buckminster Fuller to programming from the MacArthur Foundation to Behavioral Economics and beyond. Our latest published scientific research paper, our latest theoretical peer-reviewed concept paper, and its accompanying study guide are included in the attachments, and they include many of the concepts that have inspired FdS.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Haitian people face the perfect-storm of 70% underemployment, poorly allocated resources, shortsighted self-serving international entities, garbage-filled streets, environmental degradation, deforestation and government bureaucracy / corruption. The country cooks with 900,000 tons of charcoal annually, which, due to inefficiencies in charcoal production, causes the destruction of 9 million trees every year! Charcoal smoke also shortens Haitians' lives by 6 years. However the charcoal industry provides 300,000 jobs which is5% of the economy. Switching immediately to petroleum gas would cause major job loss.. Haiti's most vulnerable people are by far the most likely to make a meager income producing or selling charcoal. However, workers say, "It is hard and dirty work, where we breathe smoke and dust.” and, "We only make charcoal because there is no other work available; and without work we will starve." Charcoal also damages the health of the cooks, shortening lives by 6 years!

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Haiti is the opposite of Las Vegas: Whatever happens in Haiti, EVERYONE knows about. Haiti is the perfect location to implement the Social-Eco Enterprise model. Haitian people have seen billions of US dollars of promises of improving conditions in the country. Now, FdSHaitian developmental partners share that they are ready to do the work required for their country’s improvement. Where 40 years of the best efforts of traditional NGOs have failed to improve conditions in Haiti, it is time for the SEE model to work with Haitians ready to work for their own steps forward. FdS has worked to learn from Haitian people every step of the way; please see our previous submissions to see how far the FdS project has come:

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

One of the main focus points for developing FdS partnerships is local grass-roots organizations. FdS has worked with Haitian organizations from dozens of communities including Cite Soleil, Kafou Fe and Croix-du-Bouquets. We have worked with, currently work with, and/or are ready to expand our work with many international partners as well, including: the UN WFP, the US Embassy, the UNDP, the Canadian Embassy, the Clean Cooking Alliance, the UNEP, and all available partners ready to help improve the ecological and social environments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (Also, regarding the following question, we work in the sector regarding leaving a community of origin because we work to create the jobs so people don't need to become Haitian refugees.) We work with others to help Haitians have as many opportunities as possible to work and provide for their families without needing to drain away from Haiti.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Leaving a community of origin

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Fuego del Sol Haiti / FdS Haiti

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

FdS Haiti is the first and longest continually operating social enterprise on the island of Hispaniola following the Mission Statement: FdS Haiti works to facilitate ecologically and socially beneficial development in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Local people are consulted and empowered throughout the R & D and implementation process in a Co-Creation model. Each additional FdS project / program must be financially sustainable and be developed to build on existing FdS activities to grow an infrastructure / eco-system of mutually beneficial developmental activities in conjunction with community, international, and local partners. FdS follows the strategy of: Listen, Lead, Listen Again. First we listen to learn the needs and wants of the local population, then we offer leadership and logistics to best address the community’s issues, and then we listen again to see how to best adapt the solutions to the cultural context of the country.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Tabarre / Port-au-Prince
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Attachments (5)

Adair - Change Is Hard_ Study Guide. Summary. Digest.pdf

Accompanying document for 50-page Change is Hard concept paper.

Adair - Change is Hard_ Publication Version.pdf

Latest FdS Behavioral Economics Concept Document presented for peer review.

FdS Gasifier Cookstoves v Haitian Charcoal Cooking Dec18.pdf

Published Peer Reviewed survey demonstrating that FdS stoves release zero air impurities in the kitchen during cooking where traditional Haitian stoves emit 6X the EPA "Evacuate!" level of carbon monoxide (CO) and 12X the WHO maximum level of smoke particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). Haitian charcoal cooking is an immediate health emergency, and the cooking conditions in settlements worldwide are likely just as bad. FdS is unique in directing focus to these crucial conditions.

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Photo of Zulfiqar Deo

Kevin Adair Thanks for sharing this. Be great to have your thoughts on our approach - Business financing for refugee entrepreneurs . Look forward to knowledge sharing.