Trees, Water & People creates jobs while protecting the environment


Trees, Water & PeopleBy Cathleen O’Grady

Trees, Water & People, Foundation Beyond Belief’s current Natural World beneficiary, draws a strong link between protecting the environment and protecting the people who live in it. They see the sustainable use of natural resources as playing a vital role in safeguarding the long-term well-being of communities, and they encourage sustainability by empowering people to play an active role in the preservation of their surrounding ecosystems.

TWP’s projects are wide-ranging, reaching from environmental education projects to dry composting latrines. Many of their programs have a strong focus on the provision of sustainable energy to communities in Central America and Uganda, as well as to Native American communities in the United States.

Trees, Water & People Luciernaga programThe highly successful Luciérnaga program, launched eighteen months ago in Honduras, brings solar photovoltaic lighting systems to communities, and is now branching out to other countries in Central America.

Luciérnaga, which means “firefly” in Spanish, not only brings electricity to parts of the country that until now have had no access to modern technology, but also helps to create jobs, all while taking care of natural resources and providing a sustainable and cost-effective source of lighting. The lighting systems, which are subsidized by a U.S. government grant, are resold through local farming co-operative societies, having been bought on consignment from TWP to reduce both cost and risk. The Cleantech project also works with small business owners and cooperatives to distribute solar phone charges and solar electricity.

Trees, Water & People Clean CookstovesEnergy poverty has implications that reach further than a lack of modern appliances: In many countries around the world, cooking with biomass (wood or charcoal) not only produces greenhouse emissions, indoor air pollution and associated health problems, and depletion of resources, but is also often dangerous, with fires causing the deaths of approximately four million people globally every year.

To combat both the environmental and human aspects of this problem, TWP has developed a number of cooking stove models in its Clean Cookstoves project, which has built nearly 60,000 stoves since 1998. The stoves, which use up to 70% less wood than traditional stoves, are safer, save on carbon emissions, and use local materials and labor, creating jobs and improving lives.

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