Case Study: Mary Njoki, 65

Our Aberdares clean cook stove project in Kenya started in 2011, and now contains approximately 10,000 stoves. Since the arrival of the carbon zero stoves in Lari district, the beneficiaries have had time to experience the benefits and switched the majority of their cooking over to them.

We recently spoke to Mary Njoki a 65 year old woman from Bathi Village and a single mother of six children who have all married and moved in with their own families. She lives alone with her two grandchildren and manages a small farm to put meals on the table.

Case Study Aberdares









Mary says “the carbon zero stove has really helped me in saving time  and money because  before the introduction  of carbon zero stoves in the area I used to spend much of my  time visiting Kereita forest everyday collecting firewood which  is about 3km from my home, spending like 5 hours in a day. But since I received the carbon zero stove, I only visit kereita forest once per week because the stove is more efficient as compared to 3-stone stoves. On the other hand before introduction of carbon zero stoves I used to spend kshs. 250 to purchase  one bundle which could last for only three days but these days one bundle goes for two weeks with the same mode of cooking as before which means  that I end up saving over Kshs.750 after two weeks

She also added that ‘nowadays I spend much of my time and money these days to concentrate on my farming activities i.e. planting carrots, kales, potatoes, cabbages and pruning peas trees and also spending some of my money to educate my grandchildren’

She went on to say that, “I can testify that carbon zero stoves produce less soot/smoke as compared to 3-stone stoves which my neighbor Mama Grace uses everyday causing more problems on her family’s health” 



CO2balance has been working in Rwanda for several years now, and as a company, we really enjoy learning about the unique cultures and practices of the country. . .

Tomorrow is the last Saturday of the month. Here in the UK, people may be planning to go shopping, take a day trip, or perhaps see their friends. . . In Rwanda, something different will be happening. “Umuganda” means “Community Service.” On the last Saturday of each month, there is a mandatory community service day, designed to be a day of contribution and building the country by citizens themselves. The start of this practice goes back to colonial times and is still practiced today. On this day, business activity halts, public transportation is limited, and people are seen working everywhere across the whole of Rwanda. Activities may include cleaning the streets, cutting grass along roads, or repairing public facilities. People with particular skills offer their services for free on this day, for example, Doctors may offer free medical examination.

The day is intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion between communities. People can also access authorities to articulate their needs and voice opinions on various issues. It’s great to see a whole country pulling together and demonstrating community spirit, and it’s things like this that make Rwanda such a great place to work!

Developing Leaders

On Tuesday the 25th March we welcomed Dr Ian Williams from CaplorHorizons into the CO2balance office in Taunton to provide leadership training to various members of the organisation. Amongst other things CaplorHorizons aims to inspire sustainability in business and communities as well as delivering training programmes that build remarkable teams. The session covered many areas and there was plenty to take on board as we thought about what makes an effective leader and how we might improve our own leadership styles.

Leadership Training

Project partner ACREST among the finalists of the Clinton Global Initiative University Challange

At CO2balance we believe that our projects have the biggest impact on the ground if we work in strong partnerships with local communities and organisations, which is why CO2balance welcomes similar partnerships whereby international support meets local knowledge and skills.

The African Centre of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (ACREST), our partner NGO in Cameroon has been working with engineers from Purdue University in the United States to harvest energy from the local river through a micro-hydro plant. Besides providing electricity for more than 50 families in the neighbourhood, the plant is essential for ACREST for a continuous work on its cook stove, solar and water purification projects.


Students at Purdue University wanted to take this initiative to a higher level in order to build a ” locally-sourced, locally-fabricated, financially-sustainable micro-hydropower plant” by upgrading the existing one with innovative engineering techniques to reduce operation costs. The project “Beyond “empowerment”: the realization of community power” has reached the final stage of the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University 2014 commitments challenge, being one of the 16 finalists of the competition ( The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) was launched by President Clinton in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses and to provide the necessary finance needed to realize the selected projects.


Well done ACREST and Purdue University!

You can also read about our existing partnership with ACREST here:

Over 1,000 Stoves in Rwanda!

ImageThe number of stoves distributed in the first Rwandan project area has now passed the 1,000 stoves mark! Since implementation started earlier in the year, a total of 1,125 stoves have been delivered to communities in the Bugesera District, with more stoves on the way every 2 weeks, including another delivery today! With stove production and distribution in full swing, the number of families benefiting from the project is set to increase rapidly in the coming months.

Improved charcoal stove project in Mozambique

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In the past months CO2balance has been working in partnership with CarbonSink Srl on rolling out an improved charcoal cookstove project in Maputo, Mozambique. CO2balance is going to include this new project in its Gold Standard Improved Kitchen Regimes Multi-Country PoA and as part of the roll-out process, two stakeholder meetings were held in the project area on 24th and on 27th of January 2014. The two meetings were attended all together by 311 people, with a good representation from different stakeholders, including local authorities, community leaders, NGOs and future beneficiaries of the stove. The meeting has been very successful and participants (of which 65% were women) warmly welcomed the initiative therefore the stove distribution can start as soon as this week by the local NGO partner.

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For more information on our multi-country, microscale Gold Standard Program of Activities (mPoA), please visit our website or follow the link:

First Gold Standard Borehole Rehabilitation Project Registered!

  After many months hard work, our borehole rehabilitation project in Kole District, Northern Uganda has achieved Gold Standard Registered status. This means that we can fund new sources of water in this project using carbon finance – which contrasts with other carbon finance projects that can only fund water treatment technology. 

ImageThis is the first time that Gold Standard have registered a project of this kind and because it was without precedent, it required an extraordinary amount of revisions, proofs, studies and technical arguments to satisfy the GS independent Technical Advisory Committee that the project was worthy of Gold Standard status.  Every single step was handled in house by co2balance so we were perhaps able to bring to bear a tenacity that other project developers could not – as the time and expense spent doing multiple, additional studies i’m sure would have put most other developers reliant on consultants off a long time ago! 


But of course, its not just about our internal journey getting to this point; this project is truly groundbreaking for what it promises can be achieved for thousands of villages and communities across Africa.  It is estimated that as many as 60% of the boreholes ever drilled are now unused and the main reason for this is simply because the hand-operated pumping mechanism that draws water to the surface is broken.  Africa is blessed with a huge underground aquifer of pure water – that is in some places 75m deep – an appalling irony in a continent that has 300 million people without access to clean drinking water.  What we have shown is possible in Kole opens up the prospect that the ethical investment community can now help this abundant, yet hard to reach, natural resource be harvested simply and sustainably for the benefit of local people. 


  Over the coming months, we will be rolling out a number of other borehole rehabilitation and installation projects with other partners in other countries.  If you would like to hear how we get on, stay tuned to this blog! 



Lion Alert pilot stove project a success

Dambwa Cookstove in Use

Zambia has seen rampant deforestation in the past decades and recent reports from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FOA) suggest the country now suffers the second highest deforestation per capita in the world.  The per capita annual consumption of firewood in Zambia is estimated at 1,025 Kg in rural areas.  The highest rates are found in the Southern province where deforestation has already impacted local climate, resulting in increased drought frequency and intensity, with negative effects on food crop production.

The rural communities surrounding Dambwa Forest, located in Southern province just outside the city of Livingstone, will be the beneficiaries of low carbon cook-stoves for every household, thanks to the efforts of the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust ( with the generous support of the Woodspring Trust and the knowledge of improved cookstove technologies from CO2Balance.

Prior to implementation of this project a sample of households were assessed for current wood usage, having an average of 1,231 Kg per capita annual consumption.  Following a lengthy design process with the assistance of CO2balance, a stove design was created to make use of locally available resources, the majority of which come from sustainable sources.  As a pilot of the full scale project the first stoves created have been provided to households and their wood consumption reassessed to measure the efficiency of the design.  The results show a significant decline in wood usage to a per capita annual consumption rate of between 337 and 435 Kg – an average 69% fall from previous rates.  These results are within the expected range of efficiencies, although we are hoping to increase this through feedback from the families using the stoves, as well as from improvements in the manufacture process as we commence mass production.

Feedback from the families that are using the first stoves has been extremely favourable, reporting that they are able to cook all the foods they usually do on the stove, in the same time as on an open fire, and that smoke from the stove is less than from traditional cooking methods.

Mangrove Conservation project

Whilst visiting our improved cookstove projects near Mombasa on the Coast in Kenya, I took some time out to go and see the good work that Mbuta Mazingira have been doing following a start up fund supplied by Toshiba TEC, in association with co2balance.  Mbuta Mazingira trained in 2010 to protect, rear and plant seedlings to replace mangroves that were deforested by people from the network of communities living nearby.


The importance of mangroves was not well understood by these local communities and it is an unfortunate fact that mangrove wood can be harvested and converted into excellent charcoal, which can be sold to a ready market in nearby Mombasa as a way of boosting low incomes.

Mangroves are nature’s barrier against coastal erosion from tides and also act as a buffer against storm surges and hurricanes; owing to the fact that the flow of receding ocean water is slowed by the dense sprawl of mangrove roots, deposition of silt is encouraged.  This provides a regular supply of nutrients on which the mangrove trees can flourish, expand and attract other organisms, such as crab, shrimp, oysters and lobster that shelter their young within the rambling roots. These in turn attract various species of commercially important fish to feed on the smaller ocean life teeming within.


It was therefore a bitter irony that many of the local communities that deforested the mangroves were fisherfolk that had turned to charcoal production to supplement their recent poor fish and shellfish catches.  In this way, they were unknowingly part of a cycle that led to lower and lower catches and a greater need to find increasingly desperate, unsustainable ways of boosting their incomes.


In addition to a planting campaign that has now seen 250,000 seedlings established, Mbuta Mazingira focused their efforts on educating these fisher communities that protecting mangroves will actually increase and stabilise their long term income.  During my visit to the mangroves, it was an uplifting experience to see that those who were originally responsible for the destruction of the mangroves are now the ones who are patrolling day and night to ensure that others do not make the same mistake.  It was clear to me that this was the very definition of a sustainable project; when the community you are working with takes the project you have helped start and makes it their own, you know the future is in safe hands.

More to a fence than meets the eye

Over the past few months the five team members of SCC’s “Challenge Africa” have been raising money for Shikaadabu Primary School in Kenya to build a fence.  At first glance this may not seem to be the most dynamic project in the world, but try telling that to the teachers and school children from the school – the response they gave us was truly mind blowing.

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The school is located in Likoni, just south of Mombasa.  Prior to the fence the school has been victim of land grabbing, burglary and vandalism – the new fence helps to solve this and provide a platform to make lasting improvements to the school, to start with only about a third of the children have desks and chairs, the rest have to sit on the floor, which itself is in need of repair.

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We expected a short tour of the school and then get our hands dirty painting a classroom and planting some trees – which all happened – but to start with we were treated to the sight of all 842 school children singing songs and poems all about how the new fence has provided them with security and safety (with tongue in cheek comments about how it will reduce truancy levels…).

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We all left feeling very rewarded and blessed to make a start in improving a school that is in dire need of support and assistance, not to mention being covered in paint, so all credit and thanks to the SCC’s “Challenge Africa” team and to everyone that donated to the cause.