Posts Tagged ‘Dominican Republic’


Saturday Series: An Interview with Rowen Jin

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By Seyyada A Burney

In our new Saturday Series, we interview inspiring people that our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems. Want to nominate someone?  E-mail your suggestions to Danielle Nierenberg!

Rowen Jin is a Project Manager for World Water Relief in Haiti. (Photo credit: Rowen Jin)

Name: Rowen Jin

Affiliation: World Water Relief

Bio: Californian Rowen Jin recently graduated from Swarthmore College as a Biology major and an English minor. She immediately fell in love with Haiti during her first visit in the summer of 2011 for  earthquake relief work. After making a career change from research to health-related development work, Rowen returned to Haiti in 2012 as a Project Manager for World Water Relief.

She speaks fluent Chinese and is conversational in Haitian Creole and Spanish.

Almost one-sixth of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water. How are World Water Relief’s projects alleviating this deficit?

In 2009, Kevin Fussell, MD, one of the founding members of World Water Relief and our current Board president, personally witnessed and recognized a need for safe drinking water in Batey Siete, Dominican Republic. Bateys are communities of largely Haitian sugarcane field workers throughout Dominican Republic. Many of these batey communities are underdeveloped and underfunded by the Dominican government because they are predominantly Haitian. We’ve been working ever since 2009 to help the situation on the island of Hispaniola. For most of our projects, we implement the school model of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). We construct drinking and hand-washing stations at schools, improve sanitation facilities, and conduct hygiene education courses. Through this approach, we hope to bring more comprehensive changes to the communities where we have projects. The key to our success is that we recognize our limitations and know our strengths.  We know we can have a positive effect on small communities and school populations if they meet a set of criteria that we have established, including community support for the project, a source of water, school administrators who want us to be there, etc.  We bring an understanding of the culture and language (all of our project managers speak the language of the countries we are serving) and a respect for the opinions of the people.  This is our formula for success.  We don’t necessarily look at the whole country’s population. We focus on those we know we can help. The specific areas where we are working have no voices other than among themselves.



Earth Sangha announces “Rising Forests Coffee”

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By Isaac Hopkins

After nearly three years of planning, the Virginia-based Earth Sangha has launched a new line of shade-grown coffee, called “Rising Forests Coffee,” from the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The coffee comes from the Dominican province of Dajabón, which lies along the border with Haiti. According to Chris Bright, the Sangha’s President, the coffee project is part of the Earth Sangha’s Tree Bank / Hispaniola program, which is devoted to improving the incomes of small-holder farmers along the border, and restoring native forest on portions of their lands. “We want to put more money in our farmers’ pockets,” said Bright. “We also want to give them a stronger economic rationale for conserving and restoring forest. Coffee can help do both of those things.”

Endangered mahogany seedlings at the Earth Sangha's Tree Bank reforestation nursery, along the Dominican Republic - Haiti border. (Photo credit: Earth Sangha)

The Earth Sangha is a non-profit charity committed to a Buddhist ethic of caring for the environment and helping people. Founded in 1997, the organization has built a large native-plant nursery in the Washington, D.C. area, where more than 200 species of native plants are grown for ecological restoration projects. All of the nursery’s stock is “local ecotype”—grown from locally-collected, wild seed.

The Earth Sangha founded the Tree Bank in 2006. The project is a partnership with a local agroforestry association, and includes a community tree nursery, a farm micro-credit program, and the beginnings of a conservation easement system. “We offer our farmers very low-cost credit,” explained Bright. “In exchange, they have to set up forest easements on their lands. The credit is tied to the forest, and farmers can get more credit if they restore forest. It’s another way of making the forest valuable.” About 25 farms are currently participating but Bright expects membership to grow.



Increasing Credit for Women & Girls: Women’s World Banking

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By Kaia E. Clarke

The ability to improve women’s access to credit has been proven to increase production in agriculture, improve food security, and the livelihoods of their families.    In an interview with Dr. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, she explains how important it is to train banking institutions to provide micro-financing products that are adaptive to rural communities and the particular needs of women.

Since women are becoming the lead farmers in their homes, what is your desire for the next generation of women with support from micro-financing?

A non-profit micro-finance organization that works globally to economically empower poor women and their families. (Photo credit: Women's World Banking)

The Women’s World Banking institute is committed to making sure our mission is about access to financial products and services. As the agriculture industry becomes up market, the opportunity for women in financing is decreasing. Our desire is that more commercial institutions provide products for women—including the agricultural sector.

How can micro-financing positively impact the lives of the rural communities in the agricultural sector?

Women are able to spend money to increase their household’s opportunities for education and healthcare. We are really focused on meeting the needs of the client and that banks are not prejudicing women by asking for collateral, such as land. Since, many women do not own property, we are pushing for mainstream banks to use “cash flow” as a way for women to participate in micro-financing. Actually many banking institutions don’t think about “cash flow” as a possibility.