Location: Coteaux, Haiti
Only a quarter of Haiti’s population has access to working electricity. More than half of the grid electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, releasing air pollutants and emitting greenhouse gasses. In addition, rural areas rely on expensive diesel generators to power their homes and buildings. The generators create toxic particles that damage the surrounding environment, contaminating water and affecting the country’s agriculture. In addition to this issue, Haiti’s tourism industry has caused environmental damage and increased consumption of natural resources in many areas where they are already scarce. This includes higher demand of water resources used for hotels, making it less available to inhabitants, and cruise ships are releasing oil and waste, damaging the marine ecosystem as well. A lack of training in environmental management, as well as research and funding, all complicate the transition to clean energy and sustainable tourism needed to restore Haiti’s ecosystem.
L’Institut Technique de la Cote Sud (ITCS) recognized these environmental issues and had a vision to make a change. ITCS is a unique training center in Haiti that focuses on developing advancements in new clean energy technologies and educating a new generation to specialize in renewable energy, environmentalism and sustainability. The education is focused in Port-au-Prince, an area of 12 towns where 200,000 people are currently residing. The institute’s foundation is inspired by their active involvement and training under the Solar Instructors Training Network (SITN), a program in the United States that incorporated renewable energy into educational system. ITCS is the first technical school of its kind in Haiti that aims to bring clean energy solutions to rural areas, as well as train local community residents in environmental management and ecotourism. Schools are often overcrowded, preventing the region’s youth, which is more than half of the population, from tapping into their full potential and acquiring a job. ITCS’s main goal is provide the opportunity for young men and women to develop skills in environmental sustainability which will not only preserve the ecosystem, but also lead to future employment. ITCS’s programs are actively training students in a number of clean energy solutions, such as solar energy, which is a clean source of power currently considered a potential permanent solution in Haiti. ITCS has also formed relationships with local solar companies so that trainees will have employment opportunities when they complete the program. The institute also proposes to lead this new generation of workers in ecotourism so that Southern Haiti’s ecosystem can be replenished and preserved. Ecotourism is a way for Haiti’s economy to improve while educating visitors on the natural environment and supporting efforts to protect it. ITCS offers a socio-economic solution to an environmental challenge: the development of a new kind of skilled workers in emerging green industries.
So far, ITCS has 56 students currently enrolled in training programs, plus 31 new students signed up for the spring 2016 semester. They have actively reached out to local young men and women to join the program in hopes that they will lead the new movement for clean energy in Haiti and contribute to community economic development. The institute has been training their current students through a variety of courses on emerging renewable energy technology and sustainable business. ITCS has not only granted its students opportunities for education in clean energy solutions, but has also created a foundation for leadership so that the trainees can further promote sustainability and community development. A new generation of green energy professionals is the first step toward ecological advancement and economic improvement in Haiti.
Environmental Impact: Efficient energy use, Avoided use of fossil fuels, Ecosystem protection
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