SURINAME’S MAJOR SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Here come the top three socio-environmental issues in Suriname (based on my personal observations, readings and interviews):

(I will get in more depth on each topic in the following posts)

(1) Gold mining (especially small-scale artisanal gold-mining)

(2) Energy

(3) Urban planning

  • land use changes and biodiversity loss (due to deforestation, hunting, …)
  • pollution of waterways due to mercury use and sedimentation
  • public health (mercury and cyanide intoxication)
  • prostitution, human trafficking, violence

Degraded area after small-scale mining operations (Source: WWF Guianas)

Degraded area after small-scale mining operations (Source: WWF Guianas)

  • renewable energies
  • energy efficiency
  • energy access for remote communities in the interior
  • need for real energy strategy, development plan, policies, fiscal incentives, need for more private sector involvement, etc.

One of the thermal power plants operated by EBS in cenral Paramaribo (very noisy, I can tell you!)

One of the thermal power plants operated by EBS in central Paramaribo (very noisy, I can tell you!)

  • public transport
  • flood prevention and sea level rise adaptation
  • sewage systems and waste water management
  • urban solid waste management
  • green space
Dumpsite I saw at Brownsberg Nature Park

Dumpsite I saw at Brownsberg Nature Park 😦

 

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Organic tea farm “Pikin Sranan”, Lelydorp, Suriname

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My first visit and interview for my blog brought me to the organic farm (“biofarm” in Dutch) and beautiful gardens of Mr. Dennis Tauwnaar and his organisation “Pikin Sranan” (which means “Little Suriname” in Sranan Tongo, besides Dutch probably the most spoken language in Suriname). Here in this little paradise, about 45 minutes south of Paramaribo, Dennis- with the help of two other women – is growing a large variety of tea trees and is processing their leaves into several kinds of organic tea.

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In order to give interested people the opportunity to visit his farm, Dennis regularly offers a guided tour through his farm, followed by a healthy, local lunch. On this morning I am thus listening to the explanations and stories of Dennis, surrounded by 16 other women (who are part of a women’s group from Paramaribo) that are as curious as I am to know more about Dennis’ work and the positive effects of the plants and trees in his garden.
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In his garden one can find the following tee trees and other fruits or vegetable species such as:
– Moringa Olifeira (a tree species originally from North India)
– Marva green tea
– Montji cherry
– Papaya
– Bittermelon
– Soursop
– among others
out of which he makes delicious, organic tea.
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To do so, he cuts and dries the leaves as well as small stems (see picture): for the drying process nothing more is needed than a few hours of Surinamese sunshine, provided every day for free by the sun over Suriname.
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Drink good, feel good
!

All of the teas in Dennis’ garden have special properties and health benefits, e.g. are full of antioxidants (that today’s health addicts are all craving for), are beneficial against hyper tension or diabetes.
As Dennis explains to this morning’s visitors, Moringa can be counted as one of the ‘super foods’, since it possesses more than 81 different antioxidants, all of the existing eight amino acids and is a real vitamins boost.
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After hearing this I am suddenly enjoying even more the tea offered by Dennis!

Besides tea, he is also selling 100% organic coconut oil and Moringa powder , which can also be used for cooking (I personally sprinkle it over my oatmeal in the morning).

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The fruits and vegetables growing in his garden, Dennis uses for his and his team’s own consumption as well as ingredients for the lunch offered to his visitors.
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All of his products are sold under the brand “Bun Sani”, either directly at his farm, in Paramaribo city or is even exported to Holland via the fair trade network.

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A “food rebel”

Dennis definitely is a “one in a kind”. He is 59 years old and still full of rebellious ideas that challenge the current agricultural production system as well as consumption patterns of people in Suriname today.
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In an interview with Parbode magazine (May 2014 edition), he said that people “eat trash” – due to today’s food culture that promotes a lot of unhealthy food, but that we nevertheless find very tasty or more convenient.

We have become slaves of the supermarkets.

Examples for this are easy to find: fast food and other processed foods with high sugar or salt content. In his opinion we have become “slaves of the supermarkets”: addicted to food that is easy to obtain and to prepare, while we often do not even know what’s inside of what we eat.

Food transparency

Since the sale and use of pesticides is legal in Suriname, but no regulation has been put in place to force producers to declare those pesticides as part of the ingredients list, he is lobbying for full food transparency and he himself is not using any pesticides at all (at least during his part of the production chain).
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Who is this blog for?

With this blog I wish to target (at least) the following groups of people:

  • Fellow travelers that have chosen the same route as me (Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad and Colombia) who wish to know more about the socio/environmental issues and projects in the countries they are visiting. You can also contribute to this blog by adding your own information and contacts of projects you have encountered on your way!
  • Potential (local and international) volunteers that would like to join/support the organizations, projects and people I present in this blog, for example, via a short- or long-term volunteering service or internship.
  • Professionals in the socio-environmental field that are looking for potential partner organizations in South America or need information about certain environmental issues in these countries.
  • Potential donors looking for local initiatives, organizations or social entrepreneurs they would like to support financially.
  • Media (local and international) who wish to report about socio-environmental issues, and foremost, that want to present positive (!) examples of local initiatives, grass-roots organizations or social entrepreneurs that bring about change in their local communities. (I am also planning to write some news articles on my encounters later on).

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