The queue at the counter is already long. Anne Marie has been working at the stove since early this morning and her large pot of rice and beans, ready to be sold, is filling the neighbourhood with a strong delicious aroma. “Rice and beans is the national dish in Haiti and it is eaten everywhere”. She began a few years ago with a charcoal stove. She could only cook one pot at a time, each one taking a very long time, and serve just a few customers a day.

Approximately two million people in Haiti cook and heat their homes with charcoal. The socio-economic cost is extremely high with a high number of premature deaths and people suffering from respiratory diseases, not to mention the never ending deforestation (around 30 million trees cut down each year). Switch is promoting the use of LPG in homes, canteens, restaurants and by food street vendors. Credit and training facilities have been put in place for street vendors and a website exists which Haitians who live abroad can use to order kits (gas bottle and burners) for their relatives who live in Haiti.

Anne Marie: “Thanks to LPG I can now save $15 a week and I’ll be able to repay the cost of the kit very quickly. I can cook more meals more quickly and I will be able to afford to pay school fees for my children”. Elizabeth works as a cook in a school: “We cook meals for 600 children every day. We used to cook in a small space which used to get very hot and full of smoke. I started to suffer from emphysema and I was very worried. Now with LPG we don’t have to start cooking at 5 o’clock in the morning because the food cooks very quickly, the temperature in the kitchen is normal and we don’t breathe in smoke all day long. My life has really changed!”

Over the last nine months over 700 street vendors have started to use LPG and each family could save up to $180 per year. One kitchen at a time, the revelation in Haiti has started!