Journal des Alternatives

Because preserving the environment is not just an option!

31 August 2009

You surely know the Caribbean’s legendary beaches. But did you know that in Cuba, where agriculture is heavily based on pig farming, the absence of a recycling system of manure leads to contamination and disease? Did you know that in Haiti, deteriorating living conditions are causing an exodus of farmers to shantytowns, where they grow their vegetables in pails, kettles and even tires? This being the only way for them to get fresh food that is too expensive at the local market…

For the past two years, in five provinces of central Cuba, more than 220 families recycle pig manure thanks to the installation of a biodigester. Your donations to Alternatives revolutionized these families’ lives. Here’s how:

- They now cook with biogas produced from pig manure instead of using charcoal – so they no longer breathe smoke that is harmful to their health and the environment;

- They produce their own organic fertilizer, thus increasing their crop yields by 20 percent;

- They have reduced their fuel expenses by $100 a year, which is a lot of money for a Cuban family;

- Women can now cook without having to look for firewood – a chore that sometimes takes hours! –, thus greatly improving their quality of life and countering gradual deforestation.

This project proves that taking action on your environment also improves your living conditions. This is why Alternatives and the Cuban Institute for Swine Research have created a Biogas Promotion and Development Centre, which will benefit Cuban peasants and the Caribbean as a whole.

By making a donation, you will contribute towards improving the health, nutrition, income and even the social cohesion of these communities, while taking conclusive action for the environment.

In Haiti we are supporting peasant movements to develop organic agriculture techniques. Did you know that half the population suffers from malnutrition? You will understand that it has become urgent to act, particularly in the shantytowns, like Carrefour Feuilles, a hillside district of Port-au-Prince where over one-and-a-half million inhabitants are packed together.

Simple and inexpensive urban agricultural practices exist, which you can help put in place in Haiti and which will improve directly and rapidly the quality of life for these communities. In Mali, we see the benefits of implementing this type of cultivation: disadvantaged communities not only have created a dynamic exchange of goods and services based on agricultural production, but have developed strong networks acting in solidarity.

Cuba, Haiti, Mali… these countries offer proof of the spin-offs from social ecology projects on which we rely to build sustainable societies!

You know that these projects are transforming the lives of poor populations. Thank you for helping us strengthen their capacity, unite their community and harvest the fruits of their labour. Because preserving the environment is not just an option, it is a necessity.

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