Introducing myself

Hi everyone,

I’m Oscar, the new Carbon Projects Officer joining the CO2balance team here in sunny Taunton. I’m told this is a tradition, so allow me to introduce myself.

I’ve always loved the natural world, so initially went down the path of science, studying for a Masters in Applied Ecology at Imperial College London. Yet it was here that I discovered the SDGs and their potential for the world, and discovered a newfound passion for international development.

I joined the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN in Rome, where I had the privilege of carbon auditing large-scale agricultural projects in Mozambique and Vietnam.

Seeking the rural life, I then ran off to the mountains of Nepal to live and work in a remote village with a charity for four months, learning the value of small-scale projects to improving people’s lives.

I must say, I’m truly impressed by all that CO2balance has achieved. The fact that the company is growing so rapidly is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone, the team past and present. So I’m delighted to be joining at this exciting time and be able to contribute to this growth, be it through projects in climate-smart agriculture (my specialism at the FAO) or traversing new lands in Africa and Asia.

Outside of work, I’m usually found rock climbing, surfing, playing tai chi, eating cake or learning something new – I describe myself as a philomath (a lover of learning) and hunter-gatherer of interestingness, so am never far from an interesting book or lecture.

Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Capture1

Overlooking the historic Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Advertisements

VCS Issuance Kenya Cookstoves 2018!

This year, CO2balance have successfully issued over 30,000 VERs under VCS (now Verra). This applies to efficient cookstove projects in Kenya located in the constituencies of Mathira, Eldoret East, and Keiyo district.

The issuance comes 7 years after the initial distribution of cookstoves in these areas. Among the stoves that were distributed was the Carbon Zero Kenya (CZK) stove model which was designed by a stove specialist and manufactured in a factory in Mombasa, Kenya on behalf of CO2balance.

The majority of stoves are still in good shape and continue to be used by households in the project areas. The stoves have helped families use less firewood, some for over 7 years now which amounts to over 170,000 tonnes of wood saved over the project’s lifetime.

The projects have had a long-term impact on improved indoor air-quality and health benefits for stove users who are mainly women and children. They also reduce the rate of deforestation in local areas.

Stove 3

Female stove user

If you would like to learn more about CO2balance efficient cookstove projects in Kenya or elsewhere, please get in touch at enquiries@co2balance.com or phone our office on (+44) 1823 332233 to find out more on how to get involved with our projects and offset your carbon footprint.

 

2018 .eu Web Awards Gala

On 21st November 2018, EURid for the 5th year running, held their .eu Web Awards which attracted 5 categories namely –

  • The Laurels – won by Fetfx.eu
  • The Leaders – won by Sorbum.eu
  • Rising Star – won by Naturalself.eu
  • Better World – won by Stardustproject.eu
  • House of .eu – won by Socialeurope.eu

with a couple of Special Commendations to Macty.eu and Dodoni.eu.

The 2018 .eu Web Awards competition recorded over 200 nominations with close to 10 000 votes during the nomination and voting period. The winners were announced at the 2018 gala, which took place in Brussels, Belgium at the Theatre du Vaudeville on 21 November 2018. The gala also hosted spectacular performances from the London based band, Blue, in addition to Hungarian pianist and composer, Balázs Havasi.

Co2balance that presented the award for Better World was represented by Grace Ayoo (Project Development Coordinator), Lucas Emmerson (Programme Manager) and James Walker (Carbon Projects Officer).

EURid through its Going Green programme supports borehole rehabilitation projects in Uganda with a focus on the Districts of Dokolo, Otuke and Alebtong .Through co2balance, their goal in the Ugandan Borehole project is to support Ugandan communities to repair and maintain broken boreholes in order to restore access to clean, safe drinking water.

On behalf of everyone at co2balance, a big thank you to the EURid team and congratulations to the incredible winners in the 5 different categories.

The Web Awards Gala in pictures

 

Kenya Boreholes Project: Local Stakeholder Consultation

At the end of October, I travelled to Kenya to host a local stakeholder meeting for new borehole projects located on the coast in Kilifi County.

The coastal county is largely rural and is frequented by tourists during the dry seasons for its white sandy beaches stretching 265km along the Kenyan coastline. Its main economic activities are tourism and fishing, however, I was there for a different reason which was to address the lack of safe water sources for the local residents.

I visited Kilifi County once before in April 2018 and found that nearly every community borehole had been chained up by the county government due to the borehole either being broken or producing unsafe water for consumption. The boreholes had remained locked up due to a lack of funds to fix them so the communities had to resort to unsafe water sources such as open wells to collect their water.

The months before my next visit in October were spent by local field staff identifying broken boreholes to be rehabilitated.

In late October we organised to hold a Gender Sensitive Local Stakeholder Consultation meeting which took place in a community hall in Kilifi South sub-county. Up to 50 people attended the meeting which welcomed county government officials, community members, local NGO representatives and borehole managers.

During this meeting, we collected everyone’s views and feedback on the borehole project to ensure the project is designed in a way that benefits the users of the boreholes. Overall the feedback from the meeting was very positive with stakeholders urging the start of the project.

The rehabilitation of the boreholes is to begin in December 2018 when they will start crediting. The people of Kilifi county will have a reliable safe water source close to their homesteads reducing their time collecting water and also firewood previously used to boil unsafe water. CO2balance will monitor the projects annually to measure the health benefits to the communities and gender impacts of the project. This project contributes positively to the following SDG’s:

A visit with clients to the Pearl of Africa – Lango sub-region, Uganda

In October I travelled to Uganda to meet with the CO2balance Uganda team, partner NGOs and local officials.

Presentation & gifts (34)

Welcoming assembly

The trip included visiting our borehole projects in Kaliro and Lango. It was great to meet our committed and knowledgeable team and partners, who do a wonderful job in implementing the projects. Each borehole is managed by a Water Resource Committee, made up of local borehole users who ensure the borehole is kept clean and functioning. The Committees are trained to be “gender sensitive” and each have a gender balance of 50/50.

The main purpose of the trip was to host clients who were visiting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project that they had funded in addition to offsetting their CO2 emissions through the Lango Safe Water Project. The CSR project worked in 2 primary schools: rehabilitating rainwater harvesting systems in both, and fixing a borehole in one and building a new pit latrine in the other.

Pit Latrines old & new (25)

The new pit latrine at one primary school makes people jump for joy!

The impact of this project was fantastic. The new pit latrine gave girls a safe, hygienic and private place to use the toilet and change. This is particularly important for those in their monthly menstrual cycle. The Head Teacher said that it has reduced absenteeism and has a huge positive impact on education. The rehabilitated borehole on the school grounds gives pupils a source of clean water, without which they had to walk for many kilometres to fetch water. Again, this impacts upon education as pupils no longer tire themselves by walk to and carrying heavy loads of water. The rainwater harvesting systems capture rainwater and store it in the 16,000 litres tanks. This can be used for washing hands, cooking, cleaning and drinking.

Rain Harvesting tank (7)

Pupils now have a water source on the school grounds

It was wonderful to see the impacts these projects are having on the pupils and their communities. The visit gave the clients the opportunity to see their work first-hand and meet the people who are benefiting from the projects. Because of the stories, songs, dances and messages of thanks they received, as well as observing the projects in action, they were able to take these stories back to their company, family and friends to spread the message of sustainability. As a gesture of thanks from the schools, they received traditional water containers, brushes, 3 chickens, 2 doves and a sheep.

Updates from Rwanda

In September I had the chance to travel to Rwanda to spend time with our partners and visit the communities benefitting from our projects. Having made a brief previous visit to Rwanda, this was a great opportunity to spend more quality time with the team at FAPDR, who implement the improved cookstove projects, and Rwandans4Water who are responsible for the borehole maintenance programme.

A key aim of the trip was to follow up on the CSR project that concluded earlier this year in Gatsibo district. CO2balance conducts bespoke CSR projects throughout our target countries, whereby investors in carbon credits fund supplementary projects that benefit the livelihoods of communities beyond the core carbon offset projects. The recently

DSC05144

Pupils at Gorora Primary School wash their hands at the tippy tap

concluded project in Rwanda involved installing solar lighting and charging systems in 4 primary schools which had previously had no electricity access at all. The schools were also equipped with handwashing stations and had their toilet facilities rehabilitated, and a comprehensive programme of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training was conducted.

During my time in Rwanda, I had the chance to visit Kiramuruzi and Gorora Primary Schools and to chat to teachers and pupils about the lasting impacts of the CSR project. All schools have chosen to ensure ongoing WASH awareness by creating WASH clubs of particularly engaged pupils who are responsible for sharing messages about sanitation and hygiene with their peers and the wider community. Espérance Murereyimana is the teacher responsible for convening the WASH club at Kiramuruzi and she described the strong engagement in the WASH club, which currently has 50 members. The club meets every Friday to discuss WASH issues and to practice singing awareness raising songs which are then shared with the whole school during assembly. Espérance highlighted the greatly improved WASH practices noted throughout the school, with all pupils now washing their hands several times throughout the day and passing on information to their families and neighbours.

Staff in both schools also praised the impact of the solar charging and lighting systems. In both schools visited, the systems have been working without fault up to the present time, almost one year and a half after their installation. As well as enabling a laptop to be used to fulfil school administration tasks, the key impact has been the introduction of lighting in several classrooms. In communities where there is no electricity and children have no light at home by which to do homework, having light at school after sunset at 6pm has an immense impact. Staff at both schools reported that high numbers of pupils remain after school to study on most weekdays, and that this was particularly useful at the end of the last academic for pupils in Primary 6 who were preparing for their final exams.

DSC05038

‘End User Training’ on optimum usage of the fuel-efficient stoves in Bugesera district

Other than following up on the CSR projects, I also had the opportunity to visit users of the improved cookstoves in Bugesera district and to see the boreholes in action in Kayonza and Gatsibo districts. The ongoing high levels of use of these technologies and good condition of the project infrastructure are a credit to FAPDR and Rwandans4Water for the strong engagement and maintenance activities that they continue to implement on a monthly basis.

DSC05112

Meeting with the borehole committee and wider community in Kinunza village, Gatsibo district

The visit was also tinged with sadness as it was the first CO2balance visit to Rwanda since the death of Jean-Baptiste Nsabimana, the founder and president of FAPDR, who passed away in March 2018. The past few months have been a very difficult period for FAPDR, particularly for Patrice Ndatimana, the FAPDR Projects Coordinator who had worked closely with Jean-Baptiste for many years. Jean-Baptiste is greatly missed on a personal level and we’re immensely grateful to him for his work on the projects over many years. Patrice has worked tirelessly to keep the projects working over these last difficult months. We’re delighted to have recently welcomed on board Clarisse Ingabire, who joined FAPDR in August to support Patrice and who is already doing a great job of coordinating awareness campaigns and monitoring in the cookstove projects. It was also a pleasure during my visit to meet Marthe Mukamuramutsa, Jean-Baptiste’s wife who took over as FAPDR president after his passing and who continues to take a keen interest in the organisation’s work.

IMG-20181003-WA0002 (002)

Clarisse, Marthe, Tom and Patrice at the FAPDR office in Kigali

Many thanks to FAPDR, Rwandans4Water and the many community members that we met during my trip. Watch this space for more Rwanda updates in the coming months!

Sawadee Krap to the UNFCCC in Bangkok

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently meeting in Bangkok to draft a rulebook for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which will form the basis of the COP24 Summit in Katowice, Poland in December.  The objective of the rulebook is to provide a streamlined draft which will assist discussions at the Katowice Summit where signatory states will agree the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Sectary of UN Climate Change, reported of “uneven progress” between the 195 Parties which “underlines the urgent need for continuing work”. The draft rulebook is critical for COP24 to “achieve balance across all issues” and allow for the Parties to “function together in an inter-connected manner”.

A delicate balance must be struck which brings all Parties together and recognises the differing economic, social, political and environmental circumstances between countries. Many complex issues are being discussed including country-specific climate pledges, known as nationally defined contributions (NDCs). NDCs are key to the Paris Agreement. Parties are discussing whether a “two-tier” system is appropriate, which would mean different rules for developed and developing states.

While the complex talks progress in Bangkok, one might ask “what can I do to tackle climate change?”. The UNFCCC encourages all levels of society to take climate action, including at a personal level. Relying solely on policy will not be enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. The UN recommends: measuring, reducing, and compensating emissions.

When it comes to compensating emissions, CO2balance offers certified Gold Standard emission reductions. All of our projects, from boreholes to efficient cookstoves, reduce CO2 emissions by displacing the need to burn firewood as a fuel source. The benefits go beyond simply reducing emissions and have positive impacts towards the Sustainable Development Goals, such as improving gender equality, improving health and well-being and providing clean water. Read our case studies page to find out how!