Our New Website Launch!

CO2balance is proud to announce the launch of our new website which coincides with our expanding role as a prominent project developer of high impact carbon projects. We will be continuing posting regularly blogging over on our new platform, available via the new website, http://www.co2balance.com.

Our new website represents what we stand for and our core values, that centre around delivering community-based carbon projects which deliver global and local impacts, providing key environmental and social benefits  which contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The key UN SDG’s our projects contribute to.

We’ve introduced a fresh new layout and an array of new content to the website, including profiles of the countries we work in, project overviews and links to our Blog Page which showcase regular updates from our projects from the field and CO2balance news.

Sign up to our newsletter on the homepage to receive updates from us and our blog. You can now also find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, sharing photos and news from the field and CO2balance team.

Going forward, we will continue to communicate regularly through our new blog (available via our new website), social media accounts, providing new articles and notifications. We hope you take a moment to visit our new website, http://www.co2balance.com.


What is WASH?

In 2017 the World Health Organisation estimated that 1 in 3, or 2.3 billion people, are still without sanitation facilities, whilst 844 million people still lack access to safe and clean drinking water. Lack of sanitation contributes to about 700,000 child deaths every year due to diarrhea, concentrated in developing countries.

WASH is a collective term for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – relating to access to safe, clean water, improved sanitation facilities and basic level of hygiene maintained. These issues are all highly interconnected, and so are combined together within this targeted ‘WASH’ approach to represent a growing sector. The benefits of having access to an improved drinking water source can only be fully realised when there is also access to improved sanitation and good hygiene practices.

Universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH is a key public health issue with international development, and is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6.

Education and training on WASH is mandatory as part of our Safe Water Projects. With the organisations and charities with which we partner, hands-on education and training sessions are ran with the communities in which boreholes are rehabilitated and occasionally in local schools. They highlight the importance of washing equipment such as plates and cutlery with soap, personal daily hygiene routine including soap, ending open defecation and collecting water in clean and secure containers to ensure the clean water is not contaminated amongst the diverse topics covers. Demonstrations are given and then groups encouraged to participate and share information amongst their communities.

Our WASH campaigns are an essential component of our Safe Water Projects, ensuring they are high-impact for the communities involved and directly contribute to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

International Day of the Tropics

We are ready to celebrate International Day of the Tropics on the 29th June, raising awareness of the diverse challenges that vulnerable nations here face. The Tropics are the geographical regions between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which experience little seasonal change in temperature and increasing rain seasonality with distance from the equator.

The geographical distribution of the Tropical Zone highlighted in red. (https://content.meteoblue.com/en/meteoscool/general-climate-zones)

Levels of poverty here are consistently higher and more extreme than the rest of the world. According to the United Nations most of the world’s most vulnerable communities are in the Tropics. It is predicted that by 2050, the Tropics region will host most of the world’s population, and approximately two-thirds of its children.

A CO2balance rehabilitated borehole in Kayonza, Rwanda.

Amongst the diverse challenges to tropical regions are climate change and deforestation. The Tropics are one of the geographical zones experiencing the impacts of climate change most severely, appearing especially sensitive to increasing temperatures and unpredictable weather. Tropical forests play an important role in global climate change, providing the essential service of carbon sequestration, storing approximately 25% of the world’s carbon. However, the rate of deforestation within tropical nations is severe. Deforestation, along with land use change in the tropics is contributing to global warming up to 20% of global carbon emissions according to the IPCCC.

Rural communities contribute greatly to deforestation, reliant on firewood as their main energy source.

Almost all of the tropical countries remained underdeveloped at the start of the 21st century. Reasons for such range from population explosion exceeding the capacity of food security, local services such as education and healthcare and natural resources, to governance, the threat of natural disasters and fragile ecosystems. Despite home to over half of the world’s renewable water resources, almost half of their population is considered vulnerable to water stress.

Rural communities without a working safe water source rely on unsafe, unclean and often polluted sources to collect their water, which then requires purifying.

Our projects are located within the tropics, helping reduce carbon emissions and improve socio-economic situations within rural communities often isolated from developmental progress.

We focus on offsetting emissions through the distribution of improved, energy-efficient cookstoves into rural communities, which use significantly lower volumes of firewood, and by rehabilitating broken safe water sources to remove the need to boil unclean water for purification. They deliver environmental impacts in the form of emission reductions which are certified by the verification body the Gold Standard; as well as socio-economic impacts through empowering women within the local communities, delivering health improvements by reducing indoor air pollution and providing safe water in the respective projects.

Update from Mozambique in the aftermath of Cyclone

Considered one of the most severe tropical cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere, tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port city of Mozambique on 14th March, devastating everything in its path.

With our local partner Village Water, we were in the process of rehabilitating broken boreholes as part of a Safe Water Project within Manica Province when the cyclone hit, which washed away or damaged some of the fixed boreholes.

A fixed borehole broken during Cyclone Idai.

Now 3 months on, Village Water have been working endlessly to tackle relief and emergency efforts whilst continuing to fix boreholes for the supply of safe water to communities that were in the cyclones path.

Chiruca Community collecting water from the newly rehabilitated community borehole

Such communities, including Chiruca (pictured), now have a safe water source close to their homes which is safe for their families to drink, giving them a reason to smile in the aftermath of disaster.

The impacts of climate change are being felt worldwide, with weather patterns becoming more extreme and unpredictable, resulting in an increase of the risk of disastrous environmental events.

If you are interested in offsetting your carbon footprint and minimizing your environmental impact, contact us at enquiries@co2balance.com.

Turning the tide in Africa’s 5000-year fight against desertification

Did you know that the Sahara Desert used to be green?

The vast expanse of dusty desert and blistering sand was, 9000 years ago, a lush green savannah. This period was known as the ‘Neolithic Subpluvial’, a time of mega-lakes surrounded by grasslands and wildebeest and early human settlements[1].

Then, about 5000 years ago, the rains stopped. The climate shifted and the sands rolled in. And it didn’t stop there. Ever since that time the people of the Sahel have been fighting an endless fight to save their crops and land and livelihoods against the ever-encroaching sand. In short, the fight against desertification.

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Artist’s impression of the Neolithic Subpluvial, or ‘Green Sahara’, circa 9000 years ago (Source: http://www.deviantart.com/9weegee).

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Satellite photo of the Sahara today (Source: http://www.nasa.gov)

 

UNEP has estimated that 35% of the earth’s land surface is under threat from desertification. That’s an area the size of North and South America combined. And threatening 850 million people. Every year, some 21 million hectares are reduced to a state of near or complete uselessness – exacerbated by human activity and deforestation[2].

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Desertification vulnerability in Africa (Source: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov)

We at CO2balance have unfortunately witnessed this firsthand. In previous posts on this blog, Project Coordinator Moses has shared his experiences of deforestation in Africa. In Kenya he says, without forests the country would be little more than a desert.

Nowhere is this more apparent than along the edge of the Sahara. Since 1920 the desert has expanded by about 10% – 800,000 km² of agricultural land swallowed up by the desert, forcing millions to migrate[3]. If nothing is done, this will only get worse.

Thankfully, we ARE doing something – communities and organisations are taking big strides to combat this threat. Dozens of programmes have sprung up; from local-scale “Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration” (in which rural farmers lead the fight), to national action programmes like Kenyan Minister of Environment Judy Wakhungu’s plan to reforest the country, to (a personal favourite) the plan for the ‘Great Green Wall of Africa’ – the seemingly outlandish plan to grow an 8,000km-long line of trees, 48km deep, across the entire Saharan border, from the Atlantic coast of Senegal to the Red Sea coast of Djibouti as a monumental ‘natural’ defence. Sounds incredible (as in, not-credible), but it was launched by the UNCCD and African Union and planting has already begun – in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger and Ethiopia. As of March 2019, 15% of the wall has been completed[4]. (I would go on about this further but frankly it deserves a blog all by itself! For now, go check it out: https://www.greatgreenwall.org/).

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The Great Green Wall of Africa (highlighted in yellow) and the plan to stop the Sahara in its tracks (Source: http://www.nationalgeographic.org)

 

We at CO2balance are doing what we can to aid this fight. Our projects, whether safe water or clean cookstoves, all have the upshot that they drastically reduce the amount of firewood that rural people are burning in their everyday lives. This drastically cuts levels of deforestation in the area. Without deforestation, shrubs and trees are not felled, which means that the midday sun will not dry and desiccate the soil, nor will organic matter and organisms be lost, thus retaining agricultural productivity, biodiversity, supporting human health and livestock and eco-tourism[1].

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We are proud to say that, since 2013, our projects have helped save over 2.5 million tonnes of wood (about 73km2 of forest) across Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Not to blow our own trumpet too much though. At the end of the day, whilst these are successes, they constitute a drop in the ocean of sand that is desertification. Real, large scale change requires international cooperation and mass public awareness.

In 17th June 1994, the UN launched the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), to meet this challenge. Today, 25 years on, we celebrate the Silver Anniversary of the “World Day to Combat Desertification” (#2019WDCD), celebrating all that we’ve achieved, but recognising how much further we have to go.

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The theme of this Silver Anniversary celebration: “Let’s Grow the Future Together” (Source: http://www.un.org)

The arid and semi-arid lands of Africa, under greatest threat, are home to about 400 million Africans[5]. Their plight will surely intensify with climate change. But, with international action like the ‘Great Green Wall’, and mass small-scale resistances like CO2balance’s projects, we can hope to turn the tide.

For now then, take a look at a few of the special 25th Anniversary projects taking place today and share these stories to raise awareness of the fight against desertification: https://www.unccd.int/actions17-june-world-day-combat-desertification/2019wdcd-events-around-world

Economic Development and Opportunities for Entrepreneurialism Through Safe Water: The Story of Jaspher and Susan in Lango sub region, Uganda

Jaspher Opio is a proud beneficiary of the CO2balance Safe Water project in Lango sub region, Northern Uganda. Jaspher lives in a village called Agengi in Dokolo District. He and his wife Susan have two children and 5 dependents. Susan and the family collect water from Aminalucu Borehole which is 250 meters away from their household.

According to Jaspher, before CO2balance intervention, people around his village used to collect water from very unsafe source. Villagers would spend lot time collecting water and fuel for purification. The main source at that time was an open well which had become a health hazard due to poor water quality. Also, children risked drowning in the well.

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Aminalucu Borehole (for domestic use) in Dokolo District, Uganda

‘I am a proud owner of a nursery tree seedling business which I started two years ago and this has increased my household income from 2,500,000 to 5,000,000 Uganda Shillings per season. I grow different tree species like Malaina, Clone Eucalyptus, Pines, and Ashock’ says Japher.

He adds that the initial investment cost for the nursery bed was 2,470,000 UGX (around £500), which he acquired as a loan from a village savings group.

According to Opio, his nursery bed employs 5 workers: two males and three females who are also water users of Aminalucu borehole.

‘the 3 female employees who work for me also live close to the borehole and say that they are now able to work at the tree seedling nursery because they no longer spend long hours in search of water’ added Japher.

Japher’s wife Susan, together with the adult dependents in their household, also help him at the nursery business which initially was not possible because they spent hours travelling long distances in search of water before the borehole was rehabilitated.

Currently his nursery bed is having 1,700 root stocks capable of raising 30,000 to 40,000 seedling of Eucalyptus trees whose potential average total sales is 24,000,000 UGX per year (around £5,000). Japher intends to invest this income in expanding his boda boda (motor cycle transport) business and also start a free range poultry system which will be managed entirely by his wife.

Susan is so happy with the time saved in collecting water from far off sources because she’s able to use it to support their family businesses and contribute to the household income.

The Lango Safe Water Project reduces CO2 emissions by removing the need for households to boil water as a treatment method. As well as reducing CO2 emissions, the project provides safe drinking water and greatly reduces the time spend collecting water and firewood, and reduces the time spent boiling the water. As shown by the story of Jaspher and Susan, this time can be investing in businesses which benefit the household and the wider community through employment.

‘Sost Gulicha Free’ Communities – Adapting CLTS to cookstoves in Ethiopia

CO2balance are currently supporting the distribution of improved cookstoves throughout the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region in Southern Ethiopia with our partner, Vita

As part of an initiative between Vita and the CLTS Foundation, a pilot project is being implemented in 2 communities in Mirab Abaya and Arba Minch Zuria, focusing on adapting the core principles of the Community-Led Total Sanitation approach to mobilise communities to adopt clean cookstoves.

The target communities are located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region in Southern Ethiopia.

These principles are drawn from the recognition that merely introducing new technology into communities does not guarantee their use; and that for effective adoption, the community must lead the way on ensuring behavior change.

This pioneering project will explore and identify how this community led approach – which includes identifying triggering factors and developing localised roadmaps –  can be adapted to cookstoves to lead to an outcome where communities are sost gulicha (traditional cookstove) free.

A newly distributed improved cookstove

The project will focus on effective education and awareness raising of the severe health impacts associated from cooking on open, three-stone fires, and detailed training on how to use and maintain the improved cookstoves, hoping to support community-led behavior change and maximise use of the improved cookstoves and the benefits they deliver.

The projects actively contribute to helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We specifically target:

SDG3 Good Health and Wellbeing through reducing household pollution and the associated respiratory diseases

SDG 5 Gender Equality through reducing the burden of the domestic task of collecting firewood on women as the improved stoves require less fuel

SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy by increasing the distribution of improved technology to rural communities isolated from development

SDG 13 Climate Action by offsetting carbon emissions through the use of improved technology.