There’s a common African saying, “It takes a village to bring up a child”. In co2balance our mantra has been, it takes a team to build up a project. This week has been the epitome of team work. We have been preparing documentation for four projects, getting ready for the next round of monitoring work, making sure our surveys reflect the improvements requested by the Objective Observers, submiting budgets and developing systems for ample service delivery across our safe water projects. On week’s like this, it tends to be end to end and it’s at times like this when everybody has to be at the top of their game and pull down some multi-tasking abilities from the heavens if they have to.
There was a light moment or two that touched on one of my favorite subjects, the common ground. I love understanding the common ground because it is the basis for our understanding of the common good. We had a conference call in the middle of the week and it happened to be during the Muezin’s call for prayer. Whenever I watch a movie with an African theme, it is something I’ve noticed always forms the background scenery, no matter where. It is something I have heard almost every day apart from my few years in boarding school. in my neighborhood I hear almost three at the same time. The call to prayer is something I may not even notice because i am so used to it being in the background. I was surprised when one of my colleagues talked of not having heard the call to prayer, despite living near a mosque. In my mind , I am convinced there must me a more advanced way the faithful are called to prayer; maybe by the use of mobile technology.
This got me thinking of different ways we can monitor our projects. We are in the process of developing an improved system for monitoring and feedback from the field. In order to ensure the most optimal functioning of the boreholes we maintain, we must ensure their condition is perfect all the time. Through our collaborative network we are able to get feedback from the field but we are making the network leaner in order to get feedback much faster in order to further appropriate rehabilitative action.
I will give a shout out to the team though. This week we did well. On to the next!
Today I went to visit the factory in Kigali where our Rwandan Improved Cook Stoves are manufactured. The Ruliba Clays factory is better know in Kigali for manufacturing clay bricks and roofing tiles, but now they have a new product being manufactured- the CO2balance Cook Stove.
With their existing expertise in the manufacturing of clay products, Ruliba have been able to diversify and put together a team of artisans to construct the CO2balance stove. With a strong clay component in the stove, Ruliba was able to construct the CO2balance stoves from a combination of machine extruded pieces, and hand finished parts.
Today I met some of the artisans working hard to complete the next batch of stoves, due to leave the factory next Tuesday. The stoves will be heading to our next two projects in the Bugesera District. Following on from the success of the initial project, the factory will be producing a large order to keep the deliveries to the villages running each week throughout the next couple of months.
Concern Universal, our in-country partner for the borehole-rehabilitation project in Bangladesh has confirmed that the local stakeholder meeting held on the 11th of May in the Rangamati was successful and highly appreciated by the local community. We thank Concern Universal Bangladesh for all their effort in organizing the meeting and we are looking forward to progressing with the project – taking into account now the suggestions we received from the stakeholders last Sunday. To hear about the latest development with our clean water project in the Chittagong Hills, please stay tuned to our blog.
CO2balance is pleased to announce that it has recently submitted 4 micro scale projects to the Gold Standard Foundation for listing. This marks a milestone in our work to date with Concern Universal in Malawi and lays the foundations for scaling up our partnership further.
The projects in question aim to provide safe water to households in rural Malawi through a programme of borehole repairs and drilling followed by a preventative maintenance programme to ensure they continue to provide clean water to communities for the entire 7 year life time of the project.
While Malawi continues to invest and make progress in water sector development, there are still issues of functionality and equity across the country with some districts including Dowa and Kasungu remaining among the least served, estimated at 41% and 61% respectively. Safe water access is even worse across the districts with 24% of the population having access to safe water in TA Dzoole; 26% in TA Kayembe and 32% in TA Chakhaza in Dowa district; 24% in TA Santhe and 40% in TA Kawamba in Kasungu districts.
This is in part due to the high variability and climatic extremes present in this area of continent, but the primary reason is a lack of infrastructure and functionality issues. Water stress has been shown to be a key barrier in achieving economic development, so achieving the growth necessary to invest in infrastructure remains out of reach in a vicious cycle driven by poverty.
Decentralised water purification systems (such as boreholes and domestic filtration devices) offer a less expensive route to clean water security, but the costs involved in even these small scale interventions are prohibitive for most people at a domestic level. Therefore the traditional technique of boiling water remains the only viable method of purifying water for households and around 5% of domestic energy in Africa (primarily in the form of non renewable biomass) is used to treat water in this manner. This project aims to remove the energy barrier of purifying water through boiling by repairing, drilling and maintaining boreholes in undeserved rural communities.
Mrs. Mutegi, a farmer in Meru South is one of the many Meru South residents whose lives have changed since the introduction of CZK Improved Cook stove. The environment inside her house is now clean and smokeless. She says she can spend more time in other income generating activities as only less time is required to collect the firewood fuel.
Mrs. Mutegi, a farmer in Meru South with her new Improved Cook Stove
The CZ stove saves her a lot of time and she is able to tend to her land. This has led to improved output in her farm produce. She also finds enough time to take care of her animals which provides her with income to supplement her tea farming. Her children spend the time after schooling to attend to her fish pond instead of wasting the time to collect wood fuel.
The Meru Improved Cook stove Project is located in the Meru South District of Tharaka Nithi County. More than 90% of rural families in Meru south use wood fuel to cook. The cost of wood fuel has escalated due to deforestation. Consequently, the families spend a big percentage of their income purchasing wood fuel. Besides the high expenses in wood fuel, another problem of cooking over open fire is the increased health problems brought by smoke such as lung and eye ailments. Deforestation is often the end result of harvesting firewood for cooking fuel.
The project helps to reduce the pressure placed on local forests by reducing the amount of firewood fuel consumed during cooking. Additionally, the money a family spends on wood is reduced considerably. This translates into money being available to be spent on food, education and medical care.
Education on optimal stove usage is provided by the CO2balance team – a training framework has been developed to cover all aspects of stove usage. The education covers from lighting, effective wood loading for optimal stove usage. Around 8,000 stoves have been provided to families in Meru. To support this life changing project in Meru please contact us.
On Thursday 8th May, CO2balance travelled to the World Vision office in Wema, Nakuru to train 30 local data collectors in conducting baseline kitchen surveys and kitchen performance tests for the World Vision Gold Standard Cookstove VPAs in Wema and Mogotio; both VPAs will be included under CO2balance’s recently registered GS1366 Micro Energy PoA and aim to facilitate access to improved cookstoves through existing micro finance institutions and designated community groups.
In addition to carrying out the baseline training, it was also a great opportunity to talk to the local community who demonstrated a keen interest in the project and were eager to share their thoughts. Apart from concerns related to the adverse health impacts of three stone fires many of the people we spoke to were particularly worried about the environmental impacts of deforestation. Pointing to the surrounding scrub-land and barren hillsides, one of the community members mentioned how the entire area used to be covered in forest. Others noted that deforestation has led to changing weather patterns and a reduction in rainfall,which in turn effects agricultural production. Based on the discussion we had, it is evident that the dissemination of clean cookstoves which reduce fuel consumption by around 50% will have multiple long-term benefits for the community in terms of sustainable development and wellbeing.
With regard to the baseline studies, World Vision have since informed us that the surveys are already well underway and that everything is running according to plan. Come end of week all the data will have been collected and soon to be returned to CO2balance for analysis. We are grateful for World Vision’s ongoing support in ensuring that the surveys are carried out to the highest standards and look forward to moving ahead with the next steps towards Gold Standard registration.
It’s been exciting this week on the Kaliro front. Kaliro as I’m sure we all remember is the site of our new project. Our partners here, an organisation that we formally and informally call WAACHA, who we previously partnered with in stove distribution and who we have developed a very good relationship with were out in the field and managed to complete the feasibility assessment for new boreholes to be rehabilitated under our water program. Next week we should have a clearer way forward and it is very much something to look forward to. We were also able to get a review of our Efficient cookstove LOA which is a big step forward to implementation of that project. From my corner it looks like things are looking up for co2balance in Uganda and it will be an interesting many months ahead.
This week was a bit more sobering as well. Social media has been abuzz with a campaign dubbed #bringbackourgirls. it is unfortunate that in this day and age, in the 2nd decade of the 21st century, innocents can still be put in such harms way. It reminded me of previous albeit similar occurance. At the height of the LRA rebellion in 1996, 10 years before the Northern insurgency ended, 139 female students were similarly abducted by the rebels. It brought unprecedented international attention to a a war that had been raging for almost 10 years and in a world without social media, alot of what we knew was from the BBC and the local papers. It is sad that 18 years after that the same thing could happen to another group of young girls.
I am always of the opinion that great wisdom is in taking care of our young ones. In Africa, your brother’s child is your child. Investment in the child is the greatest investment for any individual because they hold the future. In historic times, despite many births, children died at a young age from preventable diseases, many of which were water borne. There is still a high incidence of these diseases but it is quite heartening to see how the rates of these diseases goes doewn once a a safe water source has been made accessible. When we develop projects with communities we take pride in them passing the health test. At all stakeholder meetings, we emphasize improved health as one of the benefits of improved cookstove projects and safe water projects as well and we make sure we work to deliver that. Developing a water project requires that whatever doubts there may be are dispelled and we have developed a monitoring program that covers the bases sufficiently. One thing we pride in is excellence so we aim at being as meticulous as possible with every project. When we start off rehabilitation in Kaliro, we shall have one eye on improving the water access situation but we shall have an eye on making life easier for the children as well.
As I rise on Monday I will have one eye on Kaliro. however at the same time, I will spare a thought for the African child. i hope the young ladies that were abducted do get to return home.