Vetiver Education and Empowerment Program (VEEP)
The Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP) is a unique knowledge sharing model which was first developed working in the Paramin Community, Trinidad, alongside the Paramin Development Committee (PDC) and the GEF Small Grants Programme supported by the UNDP. Through VEEP, the Vetiver System (VS) is introduced to communities as a simple, cost-effective and easy to implement bioengineering tool which can be used by anyone (especially farmers whom work so closely with plants), to protect their roads, homes, infrastructure, and agricultural lands.
Under the prototype VEEP in Paramin carried out in 2016-2017, a total of 25,000 plants were installed on 15 properties, along with classroom workshops being implemented to educate and share knowledge on the VS. An educational brochure was also co-created with the community, along with a short documentary film, and several nurseries were propagated to provide plants supply into the future. A handicraft component was carried out as well where participants learned how to make various carbon-negative sustainable handicrafts and household products with the leaves and roots of vetiver grass, including baskets, mats, chairs, soaps and fragrant root bundles. The support of the sale of these handicrafts is now ongoing through a community led brand called “House of Vetiver”.
Having gained several recognitions, interest is growing in the VEEP model and it has been expanded into Quarry Rehabilitation in the Valencia Sangre Grande areas of Trinidad, and a shortened VEEP-style training was also completed in Canaries St. Lucia. In addition, a regional web platform is being launched to support a growth in education, awareness and access to vetiver grass plants, knowledge and training, which VEEP was designed to facilitate as well. The connective and educational web platform is called The Vetiver Network West Indies (TVNWI) and will serve to facilitate interested partners and stakeholders learning more about the Vetiver System (VS), the VEEP model, and other community-led rehabilitation and regenerative projects throughout the Caribbean; while helping to spread and share a simple and cost-effective tool which can potentially play a big role in helping island states become more resilient to extreme weather; while creating new livelihood opportunities; and healthier, more sustainable environments which can help in mitigating climate change.