Update on Haiti

February 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti


Another plane will be leaving from Miami in the next few days for Haiti. Needed are medical personnel, sanitation experts and water experts.

Our sanitation team is working near a main hospital, installing much needed sanitation systems in that area.  Last we heard, our water team was headed to Leogane, which is almost totally destroyed, to teach people to filter their own water with a number of low tech methods. One of these is the Sodis method, using a plastic bottle and sunlight to kill pathogens; another is a sand filter, also effective at ridding water of pathogens.  Solar ovens also kill pathogens. Combinations can be very effective.  The major risk right now is from human waste or toxins entering the water supply.

The sanitation team is building compost toilets which separate liquid and solid human waste.  The solid waste will decompose much faster when separated, and once all pathogens are eliminated, it can be used as fertilizer for fruit trees and similar food sources, which keeps the system as a closed loop and eliminates the waste stream.  Urine can be used immediately to fertilize plants – it is sterile, and when diluted with water, becomes an excellent source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.  By using this waste stream to grow food, we protect sensitive ecosystems and human systems from pollution and we can accelerate the growth of a future food supply.   These systems can be safely built with available materials – they are low tech systems and can be fairly rapidly replicated all over the cities and camps.

We have received some generous donations which enable us to fly a number of individuals to Haiti, so please pass this on to anyone who may be interested.

Haiti update

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti

haiti kidsWe now have two low tech water specialists (from naturehealingnature.org) and three sanitation experts on the ground in Haiti. They came from Texas, Utah, Austria and Portugal and flew out of planes leaving from NY and LA, provided by Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers (disaster first responders, who chartered planes to send volunteer ministers, medical personnel and water and sanitation experts to Haiti).  The sanitation experts took enough materials with them to build a demonstration sustainable latrine which will service 1000 people per day.  The human waste will be safely and securely composted and will eventually become fertilizer for food and fuel crops.    The water experts specialize in filtering water with found materials, like sand, plastic bottles, etc.  They’ve done this in villages in Senegal, Peru and other countries and are very resourceful.  We haven’t heard from them yet but we will update again as soon as we do. Your donations helped make this occur – thank you!

Twelve more permaculturists are interested in traveling to Haiti as soon as another plane becomes available.    We’ve also been contacted by a couple of midwives who would like to go as well as other medical personnel.  Some of our permaculturists also have medical training – they are very much needed there.  The city of Jacmel was wiped out 80% and they badly need sanitiation, water, and medical treatment there.

We are currently in negotiations to send equipment on several possible boats leaving from Florida for Haiti over the next 3-4 weeks. We’d like to stock the boats with equipment to build more compost latrines, water catchment systems, seeds for crops, and even possibly earthmoving equipment to create swale systems in badly eroded farmland.  Hundreds of thousands of people are leaving Port Au Prince to return to the country.  This is a good thing, because they can become self-sufficient via farming in the country (which is how things used to be), but because farmland has been strip mined and otherwise abused, it is essential that permaculture techniques such as keyline and swale systems be implemented, if reforestation and rehabilitation of farmland is to be successful.

Eventually, the people of Haiti will want to rebuild, and we hope they will use more sustainable building techniques, like quincha mejorada homes in Central and South America, which have withstood earthquakes well in Chile. These houses are made mainly from bamboo and earth, things that are readily available or could grow very quickly in Haiti (bamboo can grow up to 24 inches per day in some cases).

Quincha mejorada:


Bamboo in Haiti:


We are creating a number of partnerships with organizations already working in Haiti and have contacted an official in the Haitian government and briefed him on what we are doing.  Our long term plan is to provide education via already existing organizations that will assist in sustainable rebuilding efforts.

We are now partnering with non-profit Permaculture Guild in New Mexico so your donations will be tax deductible.  All donations are going directly to getting people on the ground in Haiti, we are all volunteering our time to make this happen.  More info soon!