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.
This 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!
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 (www.lionalert.org) 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.
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.