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Anitra

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Please give us your name, the organization that you are with, a little bit of your background. And then, give us your most important advice. What needs to be done right now critically in Haiti to help with recovery and rebuilding? As I see it, we've just been in the relief stage. We are going into the clean up stage right now and into the rehabilitation, which is the third stage. I am Anitra Thorhaug. I am the President of Greater Caribbean Energy and Environment Foundation. My organization is publically founded, 501(c) (3). I spent 32 years working on emergency measures and assessments around the world, mostly in the tropics. We are sponsored by UN, US Governement and many other donors. We have done all kinds of rehabilitations after disasters. So, that's what I am going to talk about very briefly. Before I do that, I want to talk about the very important point that Haiti is at now which is today, Tuesday the 22 of March 2010 which is Earth Day. Actually, it's the solstice. The sun and the day are equally long at this time of the year. It's very important because that when farmers all over the world, at all times, have begun planting. The farmers are beginning to plant and they need to do that because we need the food. Secondly, the rains begin. In Haiti, the rains have already begun. When 80% of your housing stock has crumbled to the ground, much of the area that you do have for non vulnerable housing, is already full of bricks and mortar. And the people have moved, in many cases, into vulnerable places which are made of water sheds, gullies and other vulnerable places that did not have housing collapse issues. Because of this, they don't have enough common sense to think ahead and say: Hey, this is dry now. But when the rains come, this is going to be full of raging water, and myself and my families and all my things are going to be swept away to the sea. That's exactly what's happening. In Gressier, we have been given a piece of land by the governement. We have made the map of the habitation in order for food and water to be distributed to people. And we are placing that over the top of the map the water sheds and along with the priest, and the mayor but mostly the priest and the school teacher we are urging the people in the vulnerable areas to get out. And we really need some help with this. We have on standby the man who was the Emergency Chief of all the Caribbean He is from Jamaica and he is used to handling floods and people being swept away in floods in Jamaica because he was the Director of the National Conservation Department there. So this is something very urgent and very much this week. What I think is a long term rehabilitation from my expertise (and I am a Research Professor at the Yale School of Forestry) is that Haiti doens't have enough water. Because they have chopped down 95% of their trees, That's a number from the FAO, the UN Agency "Food and Agriculture Organization". In Haiti, they only have 5% of their trees left. They have allowed the water, the underground water and the soiled water to escape along with a lot of the alluvial soils and the muds that were up in those stepped mountains that they have and in the lower mountains and in the flood plains. So, there have been hundreds of efforts to try to reforest Haiti. Many of them ended in complete failure. My concept, and this is what we are doing in Gressier, is to use the only real water that is still in Haiti because each person only gets 235 m3 of water per year per person. The rains just don't fall enough and when they fall, they run off. The only water left is the sea water that goes all around Haiti and comes in and out twice a day. We are planting under the sea water in the sea grass which is the habitat for the fish, which has been for over many years, decades, centuries. In Haiti, they are completely decimated. Right at the very edge, in the inner tidal zone, we are planting the mangroves, which are trees and which grow in the salt water, in the sea water. We are teaching the fisherman how to do that. And because we are doing that, the fishermen have become very related to this project and they understand. When these things are back,(the mangroves) hundreds of species of fish and shellfish will come in to use the food and the protection of the seagrass under the water. And the mangroves will grow right on the edge between the water and the land, which no other plant could live on because of the high salt. We will reforest Haiti from the sea upward which will retain the soil, create carbon, create much bio-diversity. Thousands of species of plants and animals will leave there. We will re-create fishing. We are planting a fish with the Greater Caribbean Energy and Environment Foundation and we are using the fishermen to do so. So, short-term: Employment. And long-term: more fish, more proteins for the children who are 15% malnourished all over the island (they don't have enough proteins). And we will also increase possible export because the two neighbors: Jamaica and Bahamas export lots of shellfish and fish to the United States. So this is not only good nutrition for the people this is export product. So, if we could that do all over Haiti, starting with Gressier, the area we have been given, as a modal, we could begin to green Haiti and begin to bring back some of the original natural resources that lived in Haiti before all this decimation. This, of course, needs some skills and some knowledge. But we are going to teach them. We taught all over the world: in the South Pacific, in other places in the Caribbean, the Greater Caribbean. And we know that we can teach the fishermen there. In fact, we worked with fishermen here in Miami who are of Haitian origin so that we have Creole language people. And we know this will be a success. Interviewer Tod Landess: That's fantastic and I like the whole concept of bottom up, from sea grass to the land, see grass to grassroot. I don't know if we can conclude this interview with this question: Do yo see a role for educational films in this project? Anitra: Oh Yes! Absolutely. This is what we need the educational films for. The educational films would be what kills or damages the mangroves, what kills or damages the sea grass. We are going to put these valuable resources back. It's going to take a lot of work. It's going to take a lot of labor. There is a long shoreline where we want to put them back on. Now, what do we do that kill them and what do we want not to do? For instance, you don't want to just put your sewage out right in the middle of what we're doing here. We want to not let boats come and change their oil so the oil goes all over the mangroves. And if there is a big oil spill, you want to make sure they put some kind of floating mechanism between the mangroves and the oil spill, if it comes from one of these big ships out in the sea, you see. And, don't throw your garbage there. Your cans, your bottles, your plastic bags: don't throw them there around the mangroves. Interviewer, Tod Landess: So, you mean, a recycling campaign is important? Anitra: -Yeah! Garbage is a big problem in Haiti. In this town (Gressier) and in Port-au-Prince. Not only garbage management is a major problem, but also the throwing of garbage in the public commons. There is a man making bricks out of the garbage in Gressier. So we are having the villagers pick up all the garbage in the gullies and the secos, the dry rivers and put them in bags. He is going to cut them off in his brick factory. This is a very nice way to handle the garbage. Maybe we will be able to coordinate the schedule: once a week, or once every two weeks. He comes with the truck, pick up all the garbage. And then, he actually could be paying a little tiny something. Just so more bags can be purchased and so forth. That's a sustainable garbage project (laughter). Otherwise, we are going to have to burn it or something like that. I mean, there are fancy machines to do things with garbage. But why not make bricks out of them for people's houses when so much rebuilding is needed? Interviewer, Tod Landess: That's a good idea. Anitra: -Yeah! We definitely need educational films. We need that. An education film for Haiti is about three or four things: It's about yaled of your crops and your forest. And use of Creole language. We have a guy working in the office who does Creole and who could narrate that. Maybe we can get the soil people to do something very simple. And we are going to start teaching them how to do mariculture. Believe it or not, there are only three countries in the Western Hemisphere that are doing extensive mariculture: It's Chile, Canada and the United States. You know, we are hunting and gathering all that sea product that were are eating. We are still hunting and gathering. No other product we eat, except fish and shellfish, we don't hunt and gather. We grow it. So we've got to start growing. China grows 80% of the fish and shellfish that they eat. So we've got to start growing and Haiti is a great place. Because Haiti has all the sea water in the world. You know. They've got this enormous coast line. And they are doing nothing with it. They are not making anything out of it. So why not grow mariculture products there. We could do that all over their sea coast. And make an export product Plus of course, the seconds will always go to the people in the village. The seconds are: the tomatoes that are not so pretty or something, you know, that's a second. And if there is something a little bit smaller, then the children will have that. Interviewer Tod Landess: Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 161
Posted by: koze on Apr 23, 2010

Anitra

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