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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Exploring sustainable solutions aiming at redressing environmental disasters in Haiti

PI: Rene Jean-Jumeau (, Université Quisqueya
U.S. Partner: Jerry Bauer, USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Project Dates: October 2015 - September 2019

Project Overview

4-245 Biofuel Plantation Site Visit
Site visit of a biofuel crop experimentation farm by (left to right): Clifford Louimé, UPR; Dr. René Jean- Jumeau, UniQ-IHE; Dr. Gary Gervais , UPR, and Dr. Gael Pressoir, UniQ-CHIBAS)

Since the industrial revolution, an unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases have overloaded the earth’s atmosphere, threatening large-scale disruptions in climate. When it comes to climate change, extreme weather, and health, the connections are very clear in Haiti. According to Germanwatch, for the past 20 years, Haiti has been the third most negatively impacted country in the world by global climate change. In the summer of 2008, four successive tropical storms made landfall on Haiti, leaving the country’s fourth largest city, Gonaives, inundated for months. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is also prone to a variety of other natural disasters that can severely cripple such a small economy. The particular susceptibility of the landscape makes matters worse: Haiti has less than 2% of its original forest cover still standing, increasing the chances of flooding and landslides. This PEER project is aimed at developing sustainable solutions to addres some of the environmental problems, including the effects of global climate change in Haiti. Specifically, the objectives of this study are to (1) use GIS and remote sensing tools to evaluate the magnitude of deforestation and reforestation in Haiti; (2) to train Haitian students in environmental sciences at the University of Puerto Rico; and (3) to develop research projects and master’s theses in areas leading to sustainable development in Haiti, for example, reforestation and renewable energy using marine algae-based biofuels. The principal investigator and his team will partner with the University of Puerto Rico and the USDA International Institute for Tropical Forestry, which will provide mentoring and guidance, as well as access to GIS/remote sensing facilities and laboratories. This study will provide an excellent opportunity not only to train the next generation of environmental scientists in Haiti but also to continue efforts to rebuild the university system of Haiti, which was severely damaged during the earthquake of January 2010.

International organizations have concluded that unless a viable and less expensive substitute fuel is found to replace charcoal in supplying Haitian households, there will never be any slowing of deforestation in the country. In order to address this vicious cycle, the project team will develop a framework for sustainable actions to address some of the environmental ills lying at the root of the problem. First, by monitoring and evaluating deforestation and reforestation in Haiti, the team expects to better gauge remediation efforts. Second, by focusing their efforts on marine algae for use in bioenergy, they will promote clean alternatives to charcoal use while exploring clean sustainable and renewable options. Third, this initiative will contribute to the training of Haiti’s next generation of green workers for a sustainable economy, which will provide income-earning jobs to the rural poor. These objectives will be accomplished though active engagement with the community and by providing the necessary tools to key development actors in order to help them approach their pressing issues in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Summary of Recent Activities

4-245 Workshop Participants
Participants at the workshop on "Educating for Sustainability at the CSA conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (photo credit: Dr. Jean-Jumeau).

This past quarter, the research team attempted to:

  • Improve their understanding of software needed to monitor ecosystems in Haiti
  • Finalize and the installations of our Bio-energy Laboratory (BCE2)
  • Work in Haiti with one of their research partners in his one year sabbatical from UPRRP to UniQ
  • Apply for additional funding programs to support the joint research
  • Sign a new MOU between UniQ and INTEC
  • Prepare two students documents for their registration in Master’s Programs at INTEC.

Below are the activities completed or initiated from October 1st to December 31st, 2018:

Prof. C. Louimé participated in the I-Tree seminar, which was held in Santo Domingo on October 30th, 2018. The I-tree seminar was organized by INTEC as part of their USAID-funded PEER Project. (I-Tree is a collection of urban and rural forestry analysis and benefits assessment computer-based tools developed by the United States Forest Service to quantify and value ecosystem services provided by trees.) The research team intends to use the I-Tree software to monitor forest coverage in Haiti.

Two courses were proposed for Prof. Gary Gervais on Sabbatical at Université Quisqueya (uniQ) in Haiti: (i) A seminar course on Sustainable Development similar to the course he has offered at UPR during the previous three academic years, and (ii) a laboratory course based on the “Techniques for Environmental Sampling and Analysis.” He will start teaching the modules in February in collaboration with Prof. Viviane Julien, Dr. Ketty Balthazard and Dr. Anie Bras.

Dr. Gervais has been working closely with a committee of administrators at UNIQ to revise and update the policies and procedures of the institution concerning grant management and research faculty compensation. The committee plans to have drafts of the new research manuals, policies and procedures and compensation plans available for the administration of UNIQ by the end of the upcoming academic semester (June, 2019).

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