Eritrea Cookstove Monitoring 2019

CO2balance and project partner Vita, an Irish NGO, are in the fourth year of conducting monitoring for two cookstove projects in northern Eritrea.

The region in which the stoves are based is the Anseba region, named after the Anseba river which passes through the region. Majority of the region is at high altitude with varying weather conditions compared to other regions in Eritrea. Once heavily forested, now forest cover for the whole of Eritrea is less than 0.1%.

This makes it particularly difficult for the population who rely mainly on sourcing wood fuel for cooking. The improved cookstove projects allow people to continue to cook traditional meals for their families, using less fuel. This saves time and effort in collecting wood fuel. In addition, the stoves are fitted with chimneys which direct smoke from open fires out of the kitchen, improving the health of women and children.

Since new cookstove monitoring requirements were introduced in July 2018, CO2balance is required to take pictures of all the improved stoves monitored known locally as the Adhanet stove. The pictures show how women have personalised their stoves which are permanently fitted in their kitchens. The three outlets on the stoves are used for cooking injera, bread and soup respectively.

These projects positively contribute to four SDG impacts as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Please Contact Us or email enquiries@co2balance.com to hear more about the positive impacts of our Eritrea projects!

SDG cookstove redo

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CO2balance in Sierra Leone

CO2balance has been exploring the options for launching projects in Sierra Leone for a long time. Following on from extensive nationwide feasibility studies, we finally decided recently to launch an initial borehole rehabilitation and maintenance programme in partnership with the NGO CODE-SL. Having lived in Sierra Leone back in 2016 and been captivated by the country’s natural beauty and generous people, I was very excited to return to meet our new partners and to explore Kono, the remote district in the East of the country where we are conducting the pilot phase of our project.

The need is immense in Sierra Leone for projects that ensure access to safe water and promote improved sanitation practices. Official figures state that 53% of the country’s rural population lack access to an improved water source, but in reality this figure is likely to be much higher. Whilst many rural communities have had access to safe water from a hand pump powered borehole at some point, a vast proportion of these have fallen into disrepair due to a lack of training or resources for them to be maintained locally. The situation is even starker regarding improved sanitation, with just 6.9% or rural communities having access to improved sanitation facilities. The impacts of these trends can be seen in the shocking figure that over 90% of rural water sources in Sierra Leone are infected with E-Coli.

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A broken-down handpump in Old Kissy Town, Kono district

My visit had 2 main purposes: to travel with CODE-SL to visit some of the communities in Kono where we will be working to repair and maintain boreholes and to attend the Local Stakeholder Consultation meeting, which introduces the project to local authorities in the target area and solicits their feedback.

The visits in Kono district were fascinating. We travelled to some of the most remote corners of the district, reaching the village of Kaadu where we looked across the Mel river into the Republic of Guinea. In Kaadu, we saw the broken down handpump which will shortly be repaired and visited the current water source, which is a murky and mossy pool in the forest about a 20 minute walk away from the village. We met Sita Sandi there, a local woman with 4 children who usually has to travel to the water source about 3 times per day. She reported that although they boil the water they collect, waterborne illnesses remain a major problem and that her son had just missed several days of school through diarrhoea. She looks forward to the completion of the borehole rehabilitation, as she hopes that it will save her the best part of 2 hours every day to have fresh water available in the village. Crucially, it will also reduce the scourge of waterborne disease which has greatly disrupted her children’s education.

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Sita Sandi collects water outside Kaadu

Having visited the communities, we conducted the local stakeholder consultation meeting in the city of Koidu, which was attended by several councillors from Kono district in addition to representatives of local NGOs and leaders of communities to be targeted in the project. The meeting was a fantastic meeting of minds of the key stakeholders with whom CODE-SL and CO2balance will be working in the coming years, and the feedback for the project was overwhelmingly positive. Stakeholders praised the concept of the project, particularly its focus on long-term maintenance of water points due to the high risk that water points can break down if they are not regularly serviced. It was also discussed that there is a great need for the project to reach beyond the initial 30 communities, with stakeholders assured that if all goes well in the initial phase of the project, we hope to significantly expand the reach in the coming years.

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The CODE-SL/CO2balance team gather before the LSC meeting

I’d like to thank our partners, CODE-SL, for their welcome and for their hard work on the feasibility phase of the project. This marks not only our first project in Sierra Leone, but our very first project in West Africa. It’s very exciting to expand into this new region and we hope that it will be a gateway to further projects in West Africa in the coming years. The first borehole rehabilitations will be conducted in the next couple of months – watch this space for more updates from Sierra Leone!

Zambia Safe Water Project Development: Local Stakeholder Consultation

At the end of February, CO2balance Project Manager, Emma, travelled to Zambia to meet local partner organisation, ROCS, and to host a local stakeholder consultation for new borehole rehabilitation and maintenance projects in the Eastern Province. This is what she had to say about the trip: 

CO2balance has been exploring the possibility of developing a safe water project in Zambia for some time, so it was great to take the first steps into helping it come into fruition. Reformed Open Community Schools (ROCS) is an experienced and well respected local NGO that operate across Zambia. While their focus is predominantly on education and school projects, they also have significant experience in rehabilitating community boreholes and carrying out WASH campaigns.

ROCS Field Office in Lundazi

It was my first time in Zambia, and I was struck by the friendliness of the people and, as I was there in the ‘Emerald Season’, the lushness of the environment. The ROCS team gave me a warm welcome in Lusaka before we travelled up to Lundazi together to meet the local communities and stakeholders that will be targeted by the project, and to hold a stakeholder meeting to discuss the project design and impacts.

In the drive up to Lundazi we travelled through changing landscapes, and it was striking to see the reduction in forest cover in the more rural areas in the Eastern Province, our destination. Once in Lundazi we were able to visit rural communities in Lundazi, Lumezi, and Chasefu Districts. In all of these districts access to safe water presents a daily challenge for communities- with many of the boreholes installed in recent decades not functioning, they are forced to collect water from the only sources available to them, which are mostly ponds or streams, referred to locally as ‘dambos’. As the water sources are unsafe, many households have to boil their water over traditional 3 stone fires in order to purify it for drinking.

Speaking to a local Village Headman, he also underlined the impact that unsafe water can have on the health of his community. The majority of the community suffer from stomach related illnesses at least once a month, but most people can’t afford to attend a clinic for each incidence. Many of the women that I spoke to also highlighted the massive impact that having a reliable safe water source in their community would have on their every day lives- saving them valuable time and the burden of carrying heavy full jerrycans and firewood over long distances.

At the Local Stakeholder Consultation, stakeholders from across the District gathered to discuss the project and give their feedback on the project impact and design. At the moment, ROCS and CO2balance are aiming to rehabilitate and maintain 50 boreholes across Lundazi District, that will also focus on contributing to key SDGs including Clean Water and Sanitation, Gender Equality, and Good Health and Wellbeing.

It was a privilege to be part of the meeting, to hear first hand what the stakeholders thought of the project and what they think the impacts will be. Stakeholders ranged from local government to community members, and it was great to see that everyone played an active role in contributing, particularly in group discussions on safeguarding principles and SDGs. Overall, all the stakeholders were incredibly positive and supportive of the project, urging work on the ground to start as quickly as possible.

Stakeholders discussing the impacts that the project will have on SDG 5: Gender Equality

It was an absolute pleasure to spend time in Zambia with the ROCS team and the communities and stakeholders in Lundazi District. We are really excited to start moving on the project, and given the positive feedback from the stakeholders, we are aiming to start the rehabilitation of the boreholes in April, when they will start crediting. Watch this space for future updates!

Leave No One Behind – World Water Day!

Today is World Water Day! This years focus for tackling the global water crisis is addressing why so many people are being left behind in the plight to ensure equitable access to safe water for all.

‘Whoever you are,
wherever you are,
water is your human right’.
http://www.worldwaterday.org

In 2010 the UN recognised access to clean drinking water a human right, ‘essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’. Today there remains billions of people living without safe water in their homes, schools, workplaces just among a few. Marginalised groups such as women, children, elderly, disabled, refugees and indigenous people are often overlooked and face discrimination trying to access safe water. The hard reality – people are struggling to survive, unable to escape the poverty trap and live prosperous lives to their full potential.

Access to a safe water source underpins public health and wellbeing, and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a secure and thriving global population. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Safe Water and Sanitation – is clear with its primary target, ‘Water for all by 2030’. By definition and in principle of sustainable development progress benefiting everyone – this means leaving no one behind. Access to water underpins health and wellbeing and is therefore critical to sustainable development and paving the way for a stable and prosperous world.

We cannot progress as a global society while so many are living without safe water. Although some progress has been made across Africa, there remains approximately only 30% of rural populations with an improved water source within a 30-minute trip from their house. There are a multitude of reasons for people being left behind in access to safe water, from gender, ethnicity, religion, forced displacement to economic and social status to environmental degradation and climate change. Many rely on unprotected sources, open to contamination. The lack of safe water is amongst the biggest drivers of death and disease across the African continent.

To ‘leave no one behind’, there must be increased focused to include marginalised communities and societal groups discriminated against. Water services must meet their needs, and to ensure efforts are implemented sustainably, they must be included in decision-making processes.

One of the main types of projects CO2balance implement are safe water projects. Households that lack a clean, safe water source are forced to collect water from unsafe sources. As a result they must purify that unclean water to make it safe for consumption, boiling it on open, inefficient fires which require large amounts of firewood.

By repairing broken safe water sources within communities we provide thousands of people with a safe water source, and offset emissions by removing the need to boil the water.

Our projects follow a stringent ‘inclusive’ design process to maximize participation of the local stakeholders, with emphasis for reaching and involving women in the project design and decision-making processes.

We implement projects in marginalised areas, reaching communities and specifically women who are isolated from developmental progress, unable to access improved technologies and information of such. We currently have established safe water projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Eritrea, Kenya with projects being established in Zambia and Mozambique.


Catastrophic Cyclone Idai


Considered one of the most severe tropical cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port city of Biera, Mozambique on Thursday 14th March. Winds were reported to have exceeded 177km/h (106mph), leaving a trail of devastation as it moved inland. In its wake, Idai devastated critical infrastructure in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Tete, including electricity, communication and road networks.

Many of the severely affected areas are inaccessible, cut off by extensive flooding and destroyed or disrupted transport routes, leaving hundreds of thousands of cyclone victims isolated from emergency relief efforts. Many of these inaccessible areas are uncontactable, although where contact has been made it is reported food, water and supplies are coming to the end, with only a few days worth remaining.

We are currently working on establishing safe water projects in Manica Province with not-for-profit organisation Village Water, who are currently in Mozambique on the ground working tirelessly assisting with local relief efforts and ensuring their teams on the ground are safe. The official death roll is currently at 300, although it could rise to above 1,000, with 217 confirmed in Mozambique. There are a reported 15,000 people still in need of rescue, it is unknown how many amongst these are accounted for or missing. According to our local partners working the project area, in Chimoio town in Manica Province there are 1600 now homeless people camping in 3 schools as houses have been destroyed, whilst 2km outside of the town people remain stuck in trees as the rain continues and roads and bridges have been swept away. Dombe has been severely hit with virtually impossible road access and no communications, with 50 people reported dead already.

Access into rural communities remains incredibly difficult and our rehabilitation efforts are likely to be delayed. Yet, unfortunately, following this disaster an increasing number of people are now without access to safe water as fully working safe water sources have now been swept away.

More than ever, the provision of clean water in the disaster-stricken regions is vital. From standing flood water, high numbers of unrecovered causalities and pollution from destroyed infrastructure and vehicles, water-borne diseases will be rife and ground water supplies contaminated. Affected people are reported to be drinking unchlorinated well water due to the lack of safe, accessible options. The entire populations of affected areas are vulnerable within a disaster like this, although the young, pregnant and old are more susceptible to the associated risks, making the provision of safe water essential.

As extensive flooding continues, and more rain expected over the coming days, our thoughts are with those most affected, relief workers and members of society donating their time and energy to help the devastated regions. There is likely to be a long road ahead to recovery in Mozambique, and CO2balance are committed to continuing our efforts to provide safe water in Manica Province.

Celebrating gender equality on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2019 comes at a very exciting time for CO2balance. Over the past couple of years, we have been working towards registering our borehole projects in Lango sub-region in Uganda under the Gold Standard’s Gender Equality methodology. The projects have now completed the process of registration under this methodology, making them the first projects to do so.

This process feels like a natural progression. It has been observed for several years that our borehole projects have very positive impacts on gender equality in target communities. In Uganda as in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of collecting crucial household resources like firewood and water falls disproportionately on women. Where water access is difficult due to the lack of a functioning borehole, the burden of water collection on women can become particularly intense, often taking up to 6 hours per day which leaves very little time for rest, education and income-generating activities. We have known anecdotally that the rehabilitation of boreholes in the centre of communities greatly alleviates these challenges by reducing the distance travelled for collection, but with the adoption of the Gender Equality methodology, we are now gathering and collating firm quantitative data to back this up.

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Women in Lango sub-region collecting water

Working under the Gender Equality methodology has required some additional steps to enhance the existing positive impacts of making safe water available in the heart of communities. A particularly important step was the conducting of a sensitisation campaign in November and December 2018, where almost 250 members of the target communities received training on key concepts for gender equality, including the promotion of sharing domestic responsibilities between men and women, advocacy against gender based violence and encouraging women to adopt leadership roles in their communities.

The impacts of this campaign are now beginning to be felt, with recent monitoring in communities in Lango showing quantifiable improvements in gender equality on a range of indicators. Not only are women saving vast amounts of time on water collection, but awareness has increased on the importance of this responsibility being shared between men and women. Crucially, women are also gaining equal representation on water resource committees, the community groups responsible for maintaining the boreholes and informing water users about sanitation and hygiene. To have women on these committees serves as a great medium to share the positive messages of the project on gender equality in the wider community.

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Community members in Lango attending a meeting as part of the sensitisation campaign

In a few months time, we will be issuing the first round of carbon credits from the Lango projects which have the Gender Equality stamp. We are very proud to be the first company to make such credits available on the market, and hope that this will serve as a watershed moment to instil gender equality in carbon projects globally.

Watch this space for further updates on this exciting project in the coming months. From all of us at CO2balance, have a very happy International Women’s Day!

Eritreans have a new name for cookstoves: the ‘Saviour stove’

Desey Tsehaye and her grandson with their brand new ‘Saviour’ cookstove, complete with smoke funnel.

Desey is a 47-year-old grandmother who lives out in the Eritrean desert, south of the capital city Asmara. It is a forbidding landscape of rock and mountain, which has been almost completely deforested.

Desey and her family were forced to buy firewood everyday, simply to cook and feed herself and her family, spending a lot of money in the process. The traditional stove also produced a lot of smoke, causing eye problems and headaches from the fumes.

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Local women helping to construct the stoves.

Then an improved cook stove was installed in her house through Vita and CO2balance’s fuel efficient cook stove project. The stove used much less firewood, saving the women and girls time, money and drudgery collecting firewood.

As such, they have taken to calling it the ‘Saviour stove’ (Adhenet in the Tigrinya local language).

Despite this success however, when Desey was invited to participate in the project she was initially reluctant: When I was invited to have a stove my mother had just died and I told Vita that I was grieving and not in the frame of mind to have this new kind of stove.”

But thankfully she came round: “They offered to construct it for me. Once it was built I really blessed them. Now I see that this stove is a precious item that everyone should have. I’m telling all my friends and neighbours about the benefits of it of this stove.”

Now she has no need to need to buy firewood – twigs and leaves are enough fuel for her improved stove. Her family has saved money, which they spend on a buying a wider variety of food for their family and making improvements to their home. Their former smoke problems are also a thing of the past, as the improved cook stove uses a handy chimney so there is no smoke indoors.

 

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Local women enjoying their training in stove maintenance.

CO2balance and Vita worked closely with the local women’s association in the village to engage women in the project and train them in stove maintenance.

This has proved very successful and helped build grassroots support and interest in the Saviour stoves, ensuring that they remain in good condition and reap the rewards for many years to come.