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Cooking Up a Solution to Poverty and Malnutrition in Haiti

malnutrition_in_haiti
A chef connects solutions to poverty and malnutrition in Haiti with cooking.

Chef José Andrés has discovered a new approach to solving poverty in Haiti, and it starts in the kitchen.

In Huffington Post’s recent feature on Andrés, Lifestyle Blog Editor Zoë Lintzeris details Andrés’ love affair with Haiti, describing his innovative ideas to improve the country’s cooking conditions and, subsequently, save it from poverty.

Andrés’ solution focuses on improving cooking apparatus to decrease safety hazards in the cooking process with his “clean cook stoves.”

Cooking safety hazards in the region include the use of “dirty” firewood and coal, two fuel sources that are unsustainable and not very profitable.

These dangerous methods have gone hand in hand with deforestation and pollution in the region. Erosion of soil, extreme and frequent flooding, degradation of water resources and habitat destruction are some forces linked to socioeconomic turmoil.

“Haiti has the highest rates of deforestation of any country in the world — a mere 2 percent of Haiti’s original forests remain,” says TriplePundit.

In turn, deforestation is responsible for a large portion of Haiti’s increasing poverty rate. Haiti’s real GDP growth has slowed down in the past two years, going from 4.2 percent in 2013 to a forecasted 1.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.

GOOD Magazine suggests that “efficient stoves can help in the meantime, according to Jean Kim Chaix, the founder of the Charcoal Project, which aims to become a clearinghouse on charcoal alternatives and a consultant for green entrepreneurs.”

The Charcoal Project has undertaken a project to provide an energy efficiency program for schools, to teach them to produce fuel for cooking and lighting.

The project utilizes wood and stoves that reduce smoke and save fuel, which is just what Andrés is shooting for with his clean cookstoves.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, hosted by the UN foundation, is Andrés’ initiative to save lives and protect the environment by creating a global market for “clean and efficient household cooking solutions.”

The Alliance has set out a 10-year goal to foster the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels in 100 million households by 2020.

Andrés also discussed Haitian cuisine in his PBS special, “Undiscovered Haiti with José Andrés.” In the video, he describes the deep ties between the food and the country’s history and culture.

Andrés’ relationship with Haiti has led him to uncover a revolutionary solution to a problem that has a long history. Perhaps economic prosperity really can start in the kitchen.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: Huffington Post, Good.is, TriplePundit, World Bank, Charcoal Project, Clean Cook Stoves
Photo: SCINet