Fire / Feu

Poco a poco:
One New Brunswicker's Experience with CESTA

Les appareils à pédales en El Salvador

En relation directe avec la pollution de l’air, les maladies respiratoires constituent en El Salvador la cause principale des mortalités chez les enfants de moins de 4 ans. Dans la ville capitale, le niveau hydrostatique dégringole de plus d’un mètre par année. Des crises ont éclaté dans les communautés rurales en raison du manque d’eau et les productions agricoles ont diminué de 50 pour cent au cours des 25 dernières années. La détérioration écologique et du tissu social de l’El Salvador n’est pas de bon augure.

Afin de freiner la détérioration du pays, le Centre Salvadorien de technologie appropriée (CESTA) dirige plusieurs programmes visant l’autosuffisance. Un des trois Ecocentros gérés par le CESTA, l’Ecocentros San Marcos (l’Atelier de technologie appropriée), mise sur le développement des appareils à pédales.

L’Ecocentros San Marcos fait également la promotion de micro-entreprises utilisant les technologies qui y sont produites. Parmi les appareils à pédales produits, on compte un moulin, une pompe à eau, un compresseur d’air, une machine à jus d’orange, etc.

La prochaine étape de travail à accomplir par le Ecocentros San Marcos consiste en la promotion de l’utilisation des appareils à pédales. Étant donné que le transport par véhicules motorisés est inefficace, polluant et trop coûteux, un projet est en cours de développement pour faire la promotion de la bicyclette et du tricycle à l’échelle nationale.

Une expérience déterminante au sein du CESTA


Other CIDA funded articles:

The Kyoto Protocol

Climate Change

A Return To Diversity

Pedal Power in El Salvador

Ricardo A. Navarro
September 1998

e.gif (324 bytes)l Salvador is a clear example of a country that is non-sustainable: the leading cause of death of children under four is infectious respiratory diseases, the product of air pollution; the water table in the capital city is going down more than a meter a year; there have been several social uprisings because of water shortages in rural communities; and the productivity of the land has decreased 50% in the last 25 years. In summary, the social and ecological deterioration in the country is generating the conditions for violence to spread.

"One of the aims of this Ecocentro is to promote and develop technology that will provide energy without contributing to climate change..."

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(photo: Ricardo Navarro)

In order to contribute to the reversal of this process of self destruction, the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology "CESTA" is promoting programs, projects and actions oriented towards sustainability. CESTA receives support from several international organizations, including the British Columbia branch of the Sierra Club. Along with its other work, CESTA operates 3 Ecocentros, where people can see and get trained in sustainable technologies and practices. One of the Ecocentros is the School Workshop on Appropriate Technology (Ecocentro San Marcos), where the main focus is Pedal Power. Other areas are solar energy, roofing materials, waste management and organic gardening.

One of the aims of this Ecocentro is to promote and develop technology that will provide energy without contributing to climate change, through the use of energy resources that do not generate carbon dioxide. This is particularly important in El Salvador, not only because of the extent of the air pollution, but also because the phenomenon "El Ni±o", induced by climate change, left a considerable negative impact on the agriculture of the country.

The main activity of the Ecocentro San Marcos is to train people, especially young boys and girls that might otherwise be unemployed, in the production and service of bicycles, tricycles and other pedal power technologies. Although a definite effort is made to involve girls, only 40% of the applications are by females and the ratio of graduates is two males to one female.

The courses given in the Ecocentro San Marcos are of various types to accommodate the time availability of different sectors of the population. One course, "the Mobile School", is on bicycle riding and bicycle repairs, and it is given to young kids who could not leave the communities for a more -comprehensive training at the school headquarters. Another objective with this course is to establish between both communities the first dedicated bicycle path.

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(photo: Ricardo Navarro)

"The main activity of the Ecocentro San Marcos is to train people, especially young boys and girls..."

The School Workshop receives the funds required for running courses from the Liechtensteinisher Entwicklung Dienst (LED). Also, support is received from Pedals for Progress (PFP) who provide containers full of used bicycles and bicycle parts, so the students can practice by fixing the bicycles or turning them into tricycles which are later sold at low prices.

The intention with this school workshop is that after the students graduate, they will develop their own workshop in areas where services for cycle mechanisms are needed. There are presently more than twenty workshops owned and operated by people who have graduated from the Ecocentro San Marcos.

Another area of work in the Ecocentro San Marcos is the promotion of micro-enterprises using the technologies that are produced there. One example is in the municipality of Suchitoto, where a program was started with the support of MS from Denmark. There the garbage from "Barrio La Cruz" is separated into organic and non-organic. The organic part is collected with a back-loaded tricycle and then turned into compost to be sold to local farmers. This program is economically sustainable and it has been given to the municipality, which now runs it totally.

With the support of IAF from USA the program is going to be extended to all six "Barrios" in the city and a campaign to reduce the non-organic wastes will be implemented. With the support of HIVOS from the Netherlands, similar programs have been started in barrios in six other municipalities.

Other examples of pedal power micro-enterprises include the distribution of bottled water and refreshments, and the preparation and selling of local foods, such as sandwiches or ice cream, with front-loaded tricycles built for these specific purposes in mind. In some cases a small stove or other utensils have been incorporated into the tricycle as well.

The use of pedal power is also extended to stationary vehicles. Some of the applications include a pedal powered mill, a water pump, an orange juice extractor, and an air compressor.

The next stage in the work of the Ecocentro San Marcos is the running of a campaign on the use of cycle mechanisms. Up to now the work has mainly concentrated on developing the pedal power equipment, training people for that purpose and implementing them in a limited number of municipalities or micro-enterprises. Now, plans are being made to promote the use of bicycles and tricycles on a national scale, given that the motorized transportation is inefficient, polluting and expensive.

As one of the mechanisms to promote the use of bicycles and tricycles, CESTA is planning, for June 1999, "The Great Ecological March". The theme of this march is: "For a new Millennium, where Life Prevails". A group of national and international people will bike 400 kilometers in 21 days through El Salvador. They will join the local people and their marching bands in an ecological march through each community. They will visit their local environmental projects, problems, exhibitions, tourist sites, etc. They will spend a day at each of the three Ecocentros and at the beach sites where the Marine Turtle Conservation Project is situated.

The two other Ecocentros are supported by the Sierra Club from British Columbia, Canada, through a program called GAIA. The GAIA Program is involved with the development of the "Reconciliation Forest Archbishop Romero", where a tree has been planted for each one of the people killed in the war. The other part of the program supports the School of Permaculture, where local farmers are trained in the development and use of environmentally appropriate agricultural techniques.

"...selling of local foods, ... , with front-loaded tricycles built for these specific purposes in mind."

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(photo: Ricardo Navarro)

The GAIA program also fosters the travel of delegations from Canada to El Salvador and vice versa. Once a year a representative from CESTA travels to Canada, visiting several NGO's, churches, unions, universities and research centers to explain the ecological problems in El Salvador, and the solutions that are being implemented, as well as to investigate possible sources of technical cooperation with Canadian organizations.

The Canadian delegations consist of 10 or more people who visit El Salvador for two weeks, to see first hand the ecological situation in the country. Quite often people in the delegations come back for longer stays. A final channel of cooperation in the GAIA program is a youth internship for Canadians to work in El Salvador for a period five months, where they will get involved in some of CESTA's activities. At present four Canadians (two men and two women) are working at both Ecocentros, in organic agriculture and ecological projects.

In summary, the Ecocentros serve as a resource center where technologies, processes and knowledge that are ecologically and socially appropriate can be disseminated, so that they can be implemented in other parts and contribute to the sustainability of the country.

"Produced with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)";
«Produit en collaboration avec l'Agence canadienne de développement international (ACDI)»