Ginette Sejour will tell you scouring through other people's garbage is a dirty, smelly way to make a living.
But six days a week, this mother of seven and dozens of others trek through a slum once controlled by gangs, and arrive at a garbage processing plant where they spend the day sorting glass from metal, and plastic from paper.
As one team dumps the recyclables into color-coded bins, another gathers and rips discarded paper and cardboard into bits. Using a technique that is as frugal as it is green — it requires little more than water, sawdust, a wooden mortar, rusty 32-ounce tomato cans, sawed-off PVC pipes and a locally-made press — they crush wet paper into slow-burning logs, a cheap alternative known as briquettes.
With 20 million trees chopped down each year in Haiti, an over-reliance on charcoal has created a barren nation with less than 2 percent of tree cover. Environmentalists and others say these factors have made Haiti one of the nations most at risk to the impact of climate change.
The Obama administration's $1 billion pledge Wednesday to protect the world's tropical forests -- a critical move toward breaking a stalemate between rich and poor nations in climate change talks in Copenhagen -- demonstrates how central deforestation remains in the debate to curb global warming.
For a country like Haiti, where back-to-back hurricanes and tropical storms cut a deadly path last year, projects like turning garbage into energy, while small, are in the vanguard of efforts to slow and reverse deforestation.
"I am not saying it's a panacea for deforestation, but it's one of the activities that if multiplied can have an impact," said Joel Boutroue, formerly the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti who has been consulting on climate change issues.
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