|Poco a poco:
One New Brunswicker's Experience with CESTA
Les appareils à
pédales en El Salvador
En relation directe avec la pollution de lair, 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 dun
mètre par année. Des crises ont éclaté dans les communautés rurales en raison du
manque deau et les productions agricoles ont diminué de 50 pour cent au cours des
25 dernières années. La détérioration écologique et du tissu social de lEl
Salvador nest pas de bon augure.
Afin de freiner la détérioration du pays, le Centre Salvadorien de technologie
appropriée (CESTA) dirige plusieurs programmes visant lautosuffisance. Un des trois
Ecocentros gérés par le CESTA, lEcocentros San Marcos (lAtelier de
technologie appropriée), mise sur le développement des appareils à pédales.
LEcocentros 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 dair, une machine à jus
La prochaine étape de travail à accomplir par le Ecocentros San Marcos consiste en la
promotion de lutilisation 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
Une expérience déterminante au sein du CESTA
Other CIDA funded articles:
The Kyoto Protocol
A Return To Diversity
in El Salvador
Ricardo A. Navarro
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
"One of the aims of this Ecocentro is to promote and develop technology that will
provide energy without contributing to climate change..."
(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
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.
(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
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
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."
(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.