Environment

Environmental Health Foundation quietly improving Jamaican lives

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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Since its founding in 1992, the Environmental Health Foundation (EHF) has been quietly making a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Jamaicans in the areas of health, education, environment, and science and technology.

The brainchild of renowned Jamaican scientist Professor Henry Lowe, the EHF is a non-governmental charitable organisation dedicated to the development of Jamaica through projects and programmes that stimulate economic and social development.

“We believe that the benefits of empowering residents of vulnerable communities… will accrue to the nation's sustainable development in both the short and long term,” said Professor Lowe, the EHF's executive chairman, who is known worldwide for his cancer research and for his production of nutraceuticals from Jamaican plants, particularly ball moss, which are being developed for cancer therapy, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.

Lowe has been working the fields of science and technology, energy, the environment, wellness, and health sciences nationally, regionally, and internationally for more than 50 years.

Lowe's passion for development ensures that EHF has a strong social focus that has led to interventions and engagements in a number of vulnerable and volatile communities. This is made possible through partnerships with other organisations and individuals whose values are similar to those of EHF, and who understand and share the foundation's commitment to enhancing the quality of people's lives. Through funding received from United States Agency for International Development, EHF implemented a three-year project (2011 to 2014) in Cedar Valley, St Thomas, to improve farmers' resilience to climate change; boost and secure livelihoods and quality of life through improved agricultural practices, water storage and conservation, and protection of natural resources.

More than 165 farmers, and by extension 500 residents, benefited from the project which gained global recognition by receiving the prestigious Energy Globe Award in 2015.

The EHF's track record of successful project implementation resulted in it receiving grant funding from the United Nations Development Programme-implemented Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme to empower the community of Majesty Gardens, Kingston, through renewable energy and skills training.

The two-year project, which ended in 2016, resulted in the St Andrew Settlement Community Centre's energy bill being reduced by as much as 76 per cent, through the installation of a 10-kilowatt solar energy system. The project has also resulted in a number of project trainees and participants now employed or registered in universities.

Moreover, through invitation by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and partnership with the Development Bank of Jamaica, EHF empowered the community of Parade Gardens through renewable energy and skills training. In that community, the centre's electricity costs have been reduced by up to 73 per cent, whilst strengthening the employability of more than 30 residents through certified skills training in driving, LED array assembly, food preparation, and renewable energy.

Currently the EHF is expanding its reach to address climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts through training and education in other urban and rural areas of Jamaica. One initiative will see 200 farmers benefiting from a Caribbean Development Bank-funded project geared towards building resilience and adaptation to climate change while reducing disaster risk in Peckham, Clarendon, and surrounding communities.

Faradaine Forbes-Edwards, the EHF projects manager, says she and her team are committed to improving the quality of people's lives. “It's not about project intervention anymore; it's about project engagement, where the implementing agency forges a meaningful and lasting relationship with the community. That is what will ensure that project beneficiaries buy into the project's concept, support it, learn and modify their behaviours in a positive way to improve their lives and their community,” Forbes-Edwards said.

Professor Lowe has signalled that the EHF is poised to continue its contribution towards nation building. “As we move forward, we will continue to build capacity, strengthen and uplift the most vulnerable among us, as we believe this is a critical step in achieving national development and the advancement of our people,” he said.

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