On March 4, the international Commission for Environmental Cooperation awarded an $85,000 grant to Climate Foundation and the Re-Locate project to work with the Tribal and City Councils of Kivalina, Alaska, to develop a shovel ready project to provide biochar sanitation to the village.
The project received a letter of congratulations from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Ms. Gina McCarthy, on being chosen as a recipient of the 2013-15 North American Partnership on Environmental Community Action grant for the biochar project.
In her letter, Ms. McCarthy wrote: “Your work to improve sanitation for Arctic villages across North America will strengthen communities and complement efforts under way at the EPA. The EPA is proud to support The Climate Foundation as you address environmental challenges at the community level.”
“Local relationships, roles, and responsibilities are critical to understand, visualize, and integrate into the design of any new waste management plan,” said Michael Gerace, founder and chief curator of Re-Locate. “Biochar systems and dry toilets play an important role, but the success of the technology depends on its effective integration with and support of the autonomously functioning practices that are operating in the village already.”
Working together with Kivalina, partners will improve upon, engineer, and adapt Biochar Reactor technology developed for sub-Saharan Africa by the Climate Foundation to Arctic conditions. These reactors process human waste into energy, biochar briquettes, and useful raw materials.
The biochar project addresses sanitation as the most critical opportunity to improve public health in Kivalina. Residential homes in Kivalina lack toilets and running water, and people use honey buckets (paint buckets lined with plastic trash bags and covered with portable seats) to store and haul human waste. Located on a barrier island, Kivalina is highly susceptible to erosion and the impacts of climate change, and has had limited investment water and sewer services.