Information and news about sustainability

Sustainable Cocoa FarmingThe Hershey Company is committed to achieving its goal of 100 percent sustainable cocoa farming by 2020, investing in two programs targeting small farmers and poverty in West Africa.

Learn To Grow Cocoa

The focus of this program — launched in 2012 — is to help farmers in Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods. Currently, poverty rates in Nigeria are rising while Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are not on target to meet the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

In West Africa, where about 70 percent of cocoa is grown, most cocoa farms are only about two to four hectares in size. The Learn To Grow program empowers farmers by teaching them environmental, social and sustainable agricultural practices. Through Learn To Grow, Hershey offers a three-year training program that “can lead to UTZ certification as producers of sustainable cocoa.”

Farmers who meet the certification requirements will receive premium payments for their cocoa yields, providing a considerable boost in income. The program also provides greater opportunities for their communities to thrive as it, “encourages women and young cocoa farmers to take leadership roles in farmer organizations by leveraging training and knowledge sharing.”

One of the key features of the Learn To Grow Program is called CocoaLink. This is a mobile phone service that connects even the most rural farmers in West Africa. It shares practical information with these farmers, including things such as farm safety, information on good fertilization practices, pest and disease prevention, post-harvest marketing and more.

Learn To Grow also has plans to distribute 1 million higher yielding, drought and disease resistant cocoa trees to West African farmers.

Cocoa For Good

In April of 2018, The Hershey Company launched Cocoa For Good, pledging $500 million by 2030 to support farming communities. This initiative aims to help all cocoa-growing communities, with a focus on West Africa. The initiative targets four key areas:

  • Nourishing Families. People are most productive when they are healthy, and the Hershey Company provides increased access to good nutrition, enabling children to be more successful in school and adults to be more successful in their jobs. Of note, every day, 50,000 children in Ghana receive ViVi, a nut-based healthy snack, provided through the Hershey Energize Learning program.
  • Elevating Youth. Child labor is a side effect of poverty in West Africa, and children aged 14-17 are at the most risk. Hershey currently targets child labor by increasing access to educational opportunities for the most vulnerable children. So far, the company has built five schools and supported 31 education institutions.
  • Prospering Communities. The Hershey Company is investing in programs that support women farmers who make up 45 percent of the cocoa farming industry in West Africa.
  • Preserving Ecosystems. The Hershey Company encourages the use of sustainable agricultural techniques such as shade-grown cocoa farming in order to preserve the environment for future generations.

The Hershey Company recognizes its important role in the cocoa value chain and has repeatedly shown its commitment to improving sustainable cocoa farming practices, especially in West Africa.

– CJ Sternfels
Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in ghanaGhana is a small country located in West Africa along the Guinea Bay. The country is rich in natural resources, especially oil and gold, but nearly 45 percent of the country’s population is employed in the agricultural sector and agriculture makes up 18 percent of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Coca, rice, cassava, peanuts, and bananas are some of the top agricultural products grown in Ghana. Coca is one of the country’s popular exports, alongside oil, gold and timber. Despite being resource-rich, Ghana’s economy has been contracting. Its current growth is around negative 6 percent. Countries and organizations around the world, alongside Ghana’s government and people, have recognized this problem and are currently promoting sustainable agriculture in Ghana so that they can carve a brighter future for this recovering African nation.

Feed the Future Program

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has chosen Ghana, specifically Northern Ghana, as one of its focus nations for its Feed the Future Program. USAID reports that the majority of farmers in this part of the country own small farms that are often less than five acres. Much of this land is covered in pour soil. Due to climate change and the inherent climate of the region, rain is unpredictable.

These challenges mean that malnutrition is high amongst the population. USAID’s Feed the Future Program aims to increase the productivity of these farms that mainly produce corn, rice and soybeans and promote sustainable agriculture in Ghana. Since 2012, Feed the Future has helped supply 156 thousand producers with better farming equipment and educate them on sustainable farming techniques. These techniques have led to the alleviation of some of the malnutrition and poverty issues. They also earned the farmers a total of $40 million and $16 million in private investment.

Governments Role in Sustainable Agriculture in Ghana

This private investment is important to the government’s idea for the future of sustainable agriculture in Ghana. The Ghanaian Times reports that the government of Ghana recognizes the United Nation’s latest report about the future of food security. The government wants to do its part on the world stage and at home by promoting sustainable agriculture in Ghana.

Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda mention a few ways in which the country plans to do this. The government works with organizations such as the USAID and many programs based in Africa, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program. Sustainable agriculture in Ghana is seen as a way to strengthen food security, alleviate poverty in the country and promote private sector growth.

Trax Ghana

Trax Ghana is a small nongovernmental organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in Ghana for all of the reasons mentioned above. Like the USAID Feed the Future Program, Trax Ghana operates mainly in Northern Ghana. It promotes the nitty-gritty of sustainable agriculture. It teaches farmers about the importance of soil management and how to construct proper animal pens. The organization also promote gender equality, teach business skills and farming skills to both women and men for over 25 years, since the organization was founded.

Attacking the issue of poverty from multiple fronts and with multiple allies, the future of sustainable agriculture in Ghana looks bright. Ghana’s government is in collaboration with USAID to set up the Ghana Comprehensive Agriculture Project to increase private sector investment into the agriculture sector. It will take time and there will probably be some setbacks, but with so many people dedicated the practicing and promoting the practice of sustainable agriculture, the country has a good chance of succeeding.

– Nicholas DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in MauritaniaMauritania is a rather large country in western Africa that has abundant natural resources like iron, oil and natural gas. Unfortunately, water and arable land are not at the top of the list. Nearly two-thirds of the nation is desert. Despite the lack of water, nearly half of the nations 3.8 million people make a living from livestock and cereal grain farming. Sustainable agriculture in Mauritania is essential to put this land to its best use and help the rapidly urbanizing population economically.

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Mauritania

According to the FAO, the amount of food produced domestically in Mauritania each year only meets one-third of the country’s food needs, leaving the other 70 percent to be imported from other countries. The FAO has been working to increase crop output by promoting and supporting agriculture farming in Mauritania. One such program is the Integrated Production and Pest Managment Program (the IPPM) in Africa.

This program covers nine other countries in West Africa. Since its inception in 2001 as part of the United Nations new millennium programs, the program has reached over 180,000 farmers, 6,800 in Mauritania. In Mauritania, the IPPM program focuses on simple farming techniques to increase both the quantity and quality of the crop yield each year.

These techniques include teaching farmers how to chose the best seeds to plant along with the optimum distance to plant the seeds from one another. The program also educates farmers about the best use of fertilizers and pesticides. Overuse of these chemicals can pollute the already small water supply and harm the crops. The program also teaches good marketing practices to help with crop sales.

Programs Working With Government Support

It is not only outside actors that are promoting sustainable agriculture in Mauritania. The government has been helping as well. A report by the Guardian from 2012 explains the government’s new approach since 2011. The plan includes new irrigation techniques, the promotion of new crops, such as rice, and the training of college students in sustainable agriculture techniques through subsidies.

Data from the World Bank in 2013, showed that the program was slowly succeeding; however, too little water was still the biggest issue. The World Bank and the government of Mauritania are still working towards those goals by building off of the natural resources available. According to the CIA, a majority of the economy and foreign investment in Mauritania involves oil and minerals.

A Work In Progress

Data is not easy to find on the success of these programs after 2016. What can be noted, though, is that programs run by the FAO and other international organizations are still fighting for sustainable agriculture in Mauritania. They have been able to sustain using money from mining and oil that is coming in each year.

While these are certainly not the cleanest ways for a government to make money, it is a reliable way for the foreseeable future. The government has already proven that it is willing to spend this money on its people. Hopefully, the government will continue to invest in its people and sustainable agriculture in Mauritania.

Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Many Hands Fair Trade Shop
Many Hands Fair Trade Shop, located in Liberty, Missouri, sells fair trade items from a global community of artisans and workers. The shop — open between the months of March and December — benefits fair trade sellers in over 30 countries.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is a concept that began around the 1980s in an effort to provide sustainable compensation and livelihoods to the producers and workers who make globally-traded products.

Essentially, consumers pay slightly more for internationally-traded products to ensure that a fair wage is paid to the producers of the products. Additionally, fair trade organizations set standards on the products produced, including environmental and human rights standards for producers and a fair trade minimum price for consumers.

What is Fair Trade’s Impact?

In 2016, there were over 1,400 fair trade certified producer organizations in over 70 countries who work to ensure fair compensation to over 1.6 million workers and producers. In fact, 23 percent of fair trade workers are women, a position that empowers them to help build their communities and work in a meaningful way.   

By selling solely fair trade products, Many Hands Fair Trade Shop uses their small storefront to contribute in a large way to producers all over the world. Established in 2015, the store works to ensure they are providing “a channel for these [fair trade sponsored] artisans to sell their products, [and] offering them an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and embrace a better life.”

What is the Many Hands Fair Trade Shop?

Cindy Noel, one of the managers of the Many Hands Fair Trade Shop, spoke with The Borgen Project about the efforts of the store’s managers to ensure as much income as possible goes to the fair trade producers.

“We put everything back into buying fair trade items so we can support more fair trade artisans and farmers. We have had to purchase a few shop displays but we ask for donations of most things and really have bought very few things. We are frugal. No one takes a salary,” said Noel.

The store is so serious about putting all the profit back into fair trade they have made an agreement with the Second Baptist Church of Liberty in Missouri — the owners of their property and sponsors of the store’s mission — to pay no rent on the storefront.  

The store purchases its products from a variety of companies, mainly SERRV, Papillion and Equal Exchange — all of which are members of the Fair Trade Federation or the World Fair Trade Organization.

All three of the store’s suppliers buy and sell products from fair trade producers in many different countries. SERRV purchases from producers in 24 different countries; Papillion benefits artisans in Haiti; and Equal Exchange has partnered with over 40 farmer producers over the world.

How Does Fair Trade Benefit its Producers?

Noel continued to describe the ways in which the store, and more generally fair trade, benefits its producers:

“The artisans and farmers are guaranteed an ethical wage and provided a safe place to work before we order our merchandise. Most times their children are cared for and educated in schools where their parents work. Sometimes workers who have broken free of the sex trade, or who have diseases and are shunned, work at home and provide for their families by joining a home based co-op,” Noel said.

Going Above and Beyond

Through the international network of fair trade, Many Hands Fair Trade Shop is making it possible for hundreds of fair trade producers to pursue meaningful work while earning fair and sustainable wages.

By taking no profit or salary from the shop, the managers at Many Hands are going above and beyond to see to it that every possible cent is put back into purchasing fair trade products. Through these admirable efforts, the organization will continue to support producers and workers in over 30 countries all over the world.

– Savannah Hawley

Photo: Savannah Hawley

sustainable agriculture in KenyaThe first thing that may pop into people’s minds when they here “sustainable agriculture in Kenya” is coffee. This coffee may appear on the menu of a coffee shop or just sitting in a thermos in the back of the local gas station, labeled fair trade. Either way, it is probably the most the average person knows about sustainable agriculture in Kenya. Coffee is one of Kenya’s most important agricultural exports. Kenya boasts an average economic growth rate of around five percent a year over the last decade, and agriculture makes up 35 percent of the economy and employs up to 75 percent of the population with full-time and part-time jobs.

Development of farming techniques

Sustainable agriculture in Kenya is becoming more important as the world’s climate changes and the Kenyan government relies on a bountiful harvest for export. For the men and women working on the soil in Kenya, it is more than just an economic statistic. For them, it is a way to feed their families and themselves. As climate change wreaks havoc in eastern and southern Africa and what used to be modern farming techniques become outdated, the people have learned to adapt.

In order to combat changing rain patterns and decrease in rainfall, farmers in Kenya are learning how to adopt new farming techniques. Where once farmers mono-cropped (planted only one seed type or plant such as a cereal grain) now there is intercropping (the planting of multiple seeds and plant types such as cereal grain planted with legumes). This helps the farmers by increasing their crop output and provides insurance against the failure of one of the crops. In multiple small studies done by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the multi-cropping system introduced improved agricultural output and reduced the reliance on herbicides and fertilizers.

Threat to agriculture

A major threat to sustainable agriculture in Kenya is the overuse of industrial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Heavy use of these chemicals may increase crop yields in the short term but will decrease the soil quality over time. The low crop yields over time will not only hurt the Kenyan economy but also the people. Consequences of low crop yields are a lack of money to buy food or just the lack of food availability.

An NGO called ACE Africa is working on community livelihood programs to educate farmers and their families on the proper use of these chemicals. They are also teaching farmers the importance of crop rotation and mulching. Different types of crops use different nutrients from the soil. By planting one type in one field this year and a different one in the same field next year, nutrients will have time to naturally replenish. By mulching or placing plant matter over top of a field that was just planted, moisture is retained, so a farmer has to use less water. Also, nutrients from the dying plants seep into the soil, decreasing the need for fertilizers.

Tea production in Kenya

Coffee is not the only popular and important hot beverage export of Kenya. Tea is also a major agricultural product. Farming tea is labor intensive because it must mostly be done by hand. Damaging the tea leaves before they enter the factories can result in a lesser product. As tea farming and production is already labor intensive, the Rainforest Alliance has taken on the mission of teaching tea farmers sustainable techniques to help them increase their yields and lower their overhead cost, to give them alternative to artificial chemicals. This is a large mission since there are thousands of small tea farms in Kenya and an estimated 500,000 tea farmers and workers. It is not possible to teach every farmer directly. They have decided to take a different approach and let their actions and results speak for them. By showing the neighboring farms the good results of their sustainable farming techniques, hopefully, others will begin to transition as well and learn from their neighbors.

Next time the menu offers Kenyan coffee or maybe tea, try it. Know that the farmers on the other end of the trade route worked hard to get that product in your table. Also know that they are trying their best to be citizens of a better world for themselves, their country, and in the end for all of us.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Eco-Friendly Measures Combat PovertyA common complaint about pro-environment actions is the cost they pose to the economy. But worldwide, eco-friendly measures combat poverty in new and sustainable ways. A clear link exists between environmental degradation and poverty, as a feedback loop is created between the two circumstances: by focusing on the environment, the world’s poor can also benefit. Several strategies have already been implemented with proven results that demonstrate that environmentalism can benefit the impoverished.

Five Ways Environmentalism Fights Poverty

  1. Green Energy Provides Jobs and Protects Health
    Green energy provides new jobs and opens up markets that were previously not beneficial. Additionally, according to The World Bank, pollution “stunts economic growth and exacerbates poverty and inequality in both urban and rural areas.” Poor people often feel the effects of pollution most severely since they cannot afford measures to protect themselves. Green energy lessens pollution and can provide relief to suffering communities.
  2. Environment Affects Livelihoods
    More than 1 billion people worldwide depend, to some extent, on forest-based assets for their livelihood. Low-income countries feel the effects of environmental problems more intensely, as environment-based wealth accounts for 25 percent of total wealth in such areas. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, warring parties depleted natural resources so that, according to the U.N. Security Counsel’s 2001 discussion, “The only loser in this huge business venture is the Congolese people.” Eco-friendly measures combat poverty in these cases by ensuring a community’s source of income does not disappear.
  3. Sustainable Farming 
    Globally, cooperatives have arisen that have produced organic food for markets everywhere and “revitalized traditional agricultural systems with new technologies.” Low-income communities producing organic and fair-trade coffee like this have created a rapidly growing niche market that is both sustainable and environmentally conscious. Additionally, many industries can create sustainable jobs for lower-income individuals by focusing on the environment. A Madagascar shrimp processing company created 1,200 permanent new jobs and focuses on keeping those jobs long-term by ensuring that the shrimp population in the area remains healthy. Such policies benefit all parties involved: the company, the environment and the impoverished.
  4. Recycling and Reusing Resources 
    A substantial concern in impoverished countries is developing ways to reuse scarce resources such as water. 99 percent of the time, death due to not enough water or unsafe water takes place in developing countries. In India, the company Banka BioLoo is placing more than 300,000 eco-friendly toilets in low-income areas, which creates jobs and eliminates harmful waste while providing desperately needed sanitation. The by-products of their system include water for gardening and methane gas for fuel. This innovative design is just one of many examples of how eco-friendly measures combat poverty and can improve human health.
  5. Helping Stop Exploitation of the Poor
    Governments can play a big role in combating poverty and protecting the environment with just one action. Corruption can often lead to inter-country conflict, which harms both the environment and the poor. Access to information and legal frameworks, as well as sanctions imposed by organizations like the U.N., can improve the situation in areas plagued by corruption.

These efforts require the non-poor and poor to work together. Since the non-poor have higher consumption levels, the degradation of the environment by poor people is often “due to the poor being denied their rights to natural resources by wealthier elites and, in many cases, being pushed onto marginal lands more prone to degradation.” However, the situation promises hope for the future; by working together, wealthier people have the ability to reduce environmental threats, and poor people often have the technical ability to manage resources. Together, these eco-friendly measures combat poverty.

– Grace Gay
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in IndiaFor decades, agriculture has played a key role in India’s socioeconomic growth. India is the second largest contributor of agriculture in the world with around 50 percent of people in India making their living from farming. But recently, farming has started to become less attractive, and more people are moving to big cities for different job opportunities. A decrease in water levels and poor crop yields have made it difficult to promote the growth of agriculture in India. Several organizations are stepping up to help turn things around and create new advancements in agriculture in India.

Advancements in Agriculture in India

  1. In 2017, India’s Prime Minister Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu signed seven agreements to enhance cooperation in space, agriculture and water management. The two countries hope that one outcome of this program will bring new technology that will help fight water shortages and bring agriculture back to India.
  2. The Prime Minister has also approved the Three-Year Action Plan through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) that is aimed at the educational aspects surrounding agriculture in India, with more support being provided to the faculty and students in higher agricultural education. The hope is to bring more confident people into the agricultural field, including women.
  3. DuPont India is one of the largest agricultural companies in the country. They work with the farmers in India to find solutions to the ever-changing environment. Along with providing agricultural products, the company also empowers farmers to make their ideas a reality. They work to find sustainable ways of farming and to protect the growth of crops for generations to come. This means finding solutions for insect and disease control, which are two of the problems that are preventing further growth in the agricultural community.
  4. As the largest supplier of hybrid seeds in the country, farmers are dependent on Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL) to provide high yielding seeds for their ever-growing population. The company is doing its part to contribute to the growth of agriculture in India by providing high-quality hybrid seeds. NSL provides seeds for more than 50,000 retailers. Over the years, NSL has become extremely focused on increasing crop yields, due to the water scarcity in India. The company has introduced a new concept that reduces the space between crops, which leads to an increase in overall production. This process has enabled farmers to use their time more effectively, and more than 35 percent of the farming community has started using this innovation.

Because of companies such as DuPont India and NSL, agriculture in India is able to continue to grow and be one of the largest farming contributors in the world. The entirety of India’s population is reliant on having a cohesive system of agriculture, whether it is their source of income or not. In fact, the whole world benefits from the advancements in agriculture in India; therefore, being educated in innovative, new technologies and changes in the field is incredibly important.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique
Close to the white sands of the shores of Mozambique, crews in wooden boats with hand-nets pull up their catch. The same scene plays out each day over the 1,500 miles of coastline as nearly 85 percent of fishing is Mozambique is done by hand.

While large fishing trawlers comb the ocean with nets hanging from each side of the ship. The turning of the turbines can be heard on deck and wenches wine as they bring up the catch. Below deck, hidden away from the rising sun over the Indian Ocean, humming refrigerators and freezers await the 30 to 40 tons of incoming shrimp catch for the European market. These two scenes have played out for years, but over the last two decades, sustainable fishing in Mozambique has become the new battle.

Need For Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique

These large fishing trawlers are not necessarily evil behemoths eating up all the shrimp; rather, they provide jobs and contribute to Mozambique’s export market. Around 82 percent of the shrimp exported by Mozambique in 2017 were exported to the European Union; now, the nation’s once plentiful stocks are beginning to dwindle due to overfishing by all parties.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “artisanal fishers” catch shrimp and other fish too young and too soon. These “artisanal” fishers or small-scale fishing operations catch up to 85 percent of the fish caught. Shrimp and fish mature faster than many species, and the rate at which they are caught so young far outpaces the number of times they can reproduce. The WWF says there is still time to save the fish stocks in Mozambique through promoting sustainable fishing.

The government of Mozambique and the world took notice when in 2013, the government passed a law regulating fishing rights. The bill was designed to help small-scale fisheries and also regulate their catch, and turned out to be extremely influential for the nation. A combined effort by Rare, the World Bank and the Mozambican government helped plot recovery zones, or areas where the fish population can replenish, and coordinate with fishermen to maintain their livings.

Efforts for Change and Areas of Growth

In 2016, the World Bank approved a $91 million loan and grants package for fisheries in East Africa and the South West Indian Ocean area. The South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission received a grant to increase cooperation between member nations to increase sustainable fishing practices.

Sustainable fishing in Mozambique is also necessary because of unregulated fishing or IUU fishing. IUU fishing stands for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It is estimated that IUU fishing costs Mozambique $37-67 million each year. This money could be put back into the system to improve sustainable fishing in Mozambique and the people’s pockets.

In addition, the already taxed ecosystem is further damaged which will hurt the people and industry of Mozambique in the long run. IUU fishing is a problem up and down the East Coast of Africa. Some of the money from the World Bank given to the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission will hopefully be used to combat this problem.

Global and Individual Support

Support for sustainable fishing in Mozambique is projected to continue into the future for the world has taken notice and stepped up to the plate. Whether global organizations or individuals, spreading the word, donating or volunteering can always help abroad and at home.

Overfishing is not a problem specific to Mozambique — it takes place all over the world. You can help by simply checking the label at the grocery store before you buy; yes, it can be that easy.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

the Kubulau Community
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), an environmental non-profit based out of Oakland, CA, is working to protect the world’s coral reefs and the people who rely on them. Fiji, an archipelago over of 300 islands in the South Pacific, is one of four major regions where CORAL works. Fiji is of particular interest to CORAL because the island is home to 42 percent of the world’s coral species and contains upwards of 10,000 square kilometers of coral reef.

CORAL and the Kubulau Community

In 2005, CORAL formed an alliance with the Kubulau Community located on the island of Vanua Levu, north of Fiji’s principal island Viti Levu.  The Kubulau Community sought CORAL so as to improve management of the Namena Marine Reserve between these two islands and project the incredible biodiversity of the Fijian coral reefs.

Namena is the largest no-take marine protected area (MPA) in Fiji as it covers part of the traditional fishing grounds (or “qoliqoli”) of the Kubulau community. The people of Kubualu and CORAL recognized the environmental, cultural and economic benefits of ensuring longevity for their coral reefs. Over-fishing and poaching in their traditional fishing grounds, as well as an overall lack of management, threatened the livelihood and cultural values of the Kubulau people.

Alicia Srinivas, the Associate Program Manager for CORAL, described the deep connection between the coral reefs and the people of Kubualu, saying, “Coral reefs and these communities are inextricably linked; you can’t have one without the other.”

The creation of Namena and the fishing restrictions that accompany it — parts of it are no-take zones and in parts limited sustainable fishing is permitted — have ensured the area will remain a viable fishing source into the future.  Also, the protected marine environment attracts tourism, specifically scuba divers, which brings a new source of revenue to the Kubulau people.

 

An Alliance that Benefits the Community

With the support and assistance of CORAL, the Kubulau community formed the Kubualu Resource Management Committee (KRMC) in 2009.  This community-run committee works to protect the sea’s invaluable resources and also works to ensure that the Kubulau people themselves directly benefit from the Namena Marine Reserve.

KRMC and CORAL created a sustainable community fund, to which visitors to Namena are encouraged to donate.  In 2015 alone, visitors donated over $20,000 to the fund. The money goes toward environmental management as well as to the Kubualu Education Fund, which helps Kubulau children attend school. To date, scholarships have benefitted over 200 students.

Rebuilding after Cyclone Winston

Cyclone Winston hit Fiji in February of 2016. The largest tropical cyclone ever recorded, Winston’s damage was unparalleled with wind gusts topping 190 miles per hour. The Kubulau Community was particularly hard-hit; over 80 percent of homes there were destroyed.

The values of community and sustainability, and the money and resources of the improved management of the Namena Marine Reserve, helped the Kubulau community recover after Winston in a way not seen in most other Fijian communities ravaged by the storm.

Immediately after the storm ended, KRMC mobilized all able-bodied members of the community to begin clearing roads, assessing the damage and rebuilding homes. The community was able to begin rehabilitating their destroyed community before receiving any outside assistance because of the unity, organization and monetary resources brought by the creation of the Namena Marine Reserve and the KRMC to their community.

KRMC provided the leadership necessary for Kubulau to start rebuilding after the storm must faster than other Fijian communities without the same leadership or resources. In addition, revenue saved over the years from the voluntary dive fund — as well as $5,000 supporters of CORAL sent to Kubulau — helped the community finance its rebuilding.

Looking Forward

CORAL hopes to replicate the incredible relationship it has with the Kubulau Community elsewhere in Fiji. In 2016, CORAL began working at three additional Fijian sites: Waivunia (on Vanua Levu), Ra (on Vita Levu) and Oneata (on a small island East of Viti Levu).  Srinivas says that CORAL is trying to create win-win situations for both the environment and the people of Fiji.

The win-win situation is evident in Kubulau where the Namena Marine Reserve is protecting coral reefs and issuing in a new era of fiscal and community stability for the Kubulau community. The Kubulau’s success in rebuilding after Winston is further proof of CORAL’s profound impact on this community.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

The Green Dream: Sustainability in Central America Eradicates Poverty
Despite being home to more than 40 million people, Central America harbors many cities yet to be touched by electrical grids. Currently, one in 10 Central Americans lives quite literally in the dark, with no access to electricity. But through the Regional Clean Energy Initiative (RCEI) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and regulated by Tetra Tech and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more Central American areas will have power and sustainable means to produce it.

Why Sustainable Energy Is The Future

The Central American economy is developing and generates a growth rate of more than 3 percent annually. The biggest barrier to a further increase in this rate comes from the lack of productivity in most regions after sunset. Due to the absence of natural light and electricity, residents cannot do any manual labor; as a result, there is an abrupt halt in business outputs after a certain time of day.

Lack of power also prevents children from studying in the evenings, which makes it more difficult for their education to progress at a regular pace; the electricity absence often leads to incomplete homework and inadequate revision of material. Finally, the lack of electricity also introduces the risk of health hazards for those who work in the dark.

Creating Sustainability

Most might claim that the simple introduction of a power source can eradicate these problems, but it is actually more imperative to create sustainability in Central America. Currently, the estimated 7 million people who do not have access to electricity live far from the cities and their well-established grids.

To ensure that power reaches these members of the population, IRENA and the Central American governments are working towards moving away from fossil fuel dependence and towards the development of identified renewable energy sources. This works in their favor because these rural areas have larger spaces to channel energy from natural phenomena (such as sunlight and wind) and cultivate it for use.

Renewable sources of energy can also effectively satiate the high demand for electricity in these regions. Worldwatch Institute revealed that geothermal energy alone has the potential to meet twice the predicted regional electricity demand till 2020.

Currently, only 1 percent of the available resources are used to install windmills to produce energy, leaving enough for developing solar and biomass sources too. Improving sustainability in Central America is thus the most affordable and optimum way to equip deserving rural communities with electricity.

The Implementation

The RCEI is currently implemented in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Tetra Tech plays an important role in this by implementing a joint regulatory and trade policy to strengthen the regional electricity market and make it more accommodating to sustainable energy.

This is supported by the Central America Regional Regulator (CRIE) and the regional market operator (EOR), who are both in charge of proposing mechanisms for sustainable energy use and frameworks that entail the burden of implementation shared by local operators and other market stakeholders.

Tetra Tech has also been successful in developing standards and quality-checks for equipment and energy efficiency. These standards ensure that the renewable resources are optimally utilized for the best possible results.

Thanks to these equipment standards, the city of Zacatecoluca in El Salvador now has a five-mile stretch of streets powered by quality LED streetlights. Not only are they illuminating the city in the night, they are also making it a safer place for its 40,000 residents.

The Way Forward

The introduction of electricity to these regions mitigates the risk of health hazards and economic stagnation. As systems continue to power the countries even in the dark, people can work longer hours and accomplish more every day.

Inhabitants will also begin to feel safer at night and become motivated to work after the sun sets in order to earn more. More importantly, the setup of a regional framework of sustainable energy allows improved transport and communication links between the participating countries, which can lead to more trade and a higher national output.

As electricity is slowly introduced, people become healthier, safer and equipped with higher incomes to fight poverty. Sustainability in Central America is hence the affordable green dream its people need today.

– Sanjana Subramanian
Photo: Flickr