co2balance in Eritrea

As a result of its pioneering global micro Programme of Activities (mPoA), co2balance are assisting partners develop projects in countries that have yet to see much benefit from carbon finance initiatives.  This brings us neatly around to the latest project addition to our mPOA Improved Kitchen Regimes – Dissemination of Improved Stoves in Zoba Anseba, Eritrea alongside our partner Vita.   Our work will help bring 8,000 improved cookstoves to households in this project and it will also support the ‘training of trainers’ in which every 1 person trained in stove building and maintenance will then pass on their skills to 10 more.  This project will start construction towards the later end of this year thanks to the funding we will unlock by demonstrating the offset potential of this project.

Eritrea is, I think its fair to say, not a well-known country outside of Africa – perhaps not even in it?  Despite it occupying a strategic location near the entrance to the Red Sea, it is somewhat overshadowed by its two better-known neighbours, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about Eritrea:

  • In 2006, it became the world’s first country to allocate an entire coastline as a reserve (and not a small one at over 1000 kilometres!)
  • It has no official national language, as the Constitution establishes the equality of all Eritrean languages
  • One of the world’s oldest human fossils was excavated here and many experts believe Eritrea to be the place early hominids started their journey out from Africa
  • Just like France, Spain and Italy, Eritrea holds a multi-stage international cycling event – the Giro de Eritrea is held annually.





WASH programme in Uganda

Any development practitioner would confirm the fact that without effective community engagement no clean water project can be successful, no matter how much energy, time and money spent on the project by other stakeholders. That is why CO2balance has launched a more participative WASH sensitization and community engagement programme in Kole, Otuke, Alebtong and Dokolo districts, where our borehole projects are implemented. The aim of the programme is to educate, train and engage communities on basic water, sanitation and hygiene issues in order to keep the water at both the borehole and the households level clean and fit for human consumption. Even when the water source itself is safe, water used for drinking may get contaminated because of poor water-handling practices or unsafe storage. That is why effective and continuous WASH sensitization in the communities is a very important part of our four Ugandan borehole projects. Andrew, our in-country-coordinator will soon report from the field with more updates on the programme.

Borehole user fetching water in Dokolo

Borehole user fetching water in Dokolo

Caring for Future Generations

May be I should start by asking if you care for future generations-even a little, do you? Carbon Zero has made this its top priority. I guess you must be asking yourself how and why?

OK, do you know that nearly three billion people across the globe cook every single day using open, three-stone fires, or rudimentary stoves that burn biomass such as wood, agricultural waste, animal dung, and charcoal? Cooking with these traditional cook stoves is inefficient and grossly polluting, harming health and the environment, and contributing to global warming.

In many places worldwide, women must walk for hours to collect firewood, risking their safety and sacrificing energy and their valuable time that could be used to earn a living. While often overlooked as a major contributor to the global burden of disease, cooking over open fires indoors is the largest environmental health risk in developing countries, and exposes women and the young children to high levels of smoke that is very dangerous to their health.

Burning dry firewood can save money, time and resources. From experience a properly installed wood-burning stove should produce little smoke. That’s because newer technologies have better combustion. Did you know that better combustion technology produces a hotter fire and that a hot fire releases little smoke and requires less fuel? In fact smoke coming out of your chimney is simply – wasted energy.
At Carbon Zero we have taken it our responsibility to fight climate change thus has installed thousands of energy efficient cook stoves in many parts of the country (Kenya) and beyond. This was and has been a tough process of replacing old three stone stoves with more energy efficient Carbon Zero Stoves. The process has not been easy but we do not regret since the benefits that the local communities are enjoying as a result are tremendous, we wish we could do even more.

As a result we have maintained continuous contact with local communities training them how to use the stoves and also sharing experiences to enable us even enhance our work. In the process we have talked to many of our stove beneficiaries many times beyond number and they have categorically stated that energy efficiency benefits of using energy efficient cook stoves are:
• Saves money, fuel, time and resources.
• 50% more energy efficient.
• Uses 1/3 less wood for the same heat.
• Produces 70% less particle pollution indoors and out.
They have also indicated that Environmental benefits of using energy efficient cook stoves are :
• Reduces indoor and outdoor wood smoke pollution which has been linked to cancer, asthma and other serious health conditions.
• Improved combustion efficiency reduces CO2, methane and black carbon emissions.
• Saves billions in health benefits each year.

Now I know you know why it’s vital to embrace energy efficient cook stoves. Carbon Zero has frequently told this story, and it will continue because we know that if we do not protect the environment today then we are jeopardizing the lives of generations to come.


The term “biodiversity” is used to describe the variety of life. This variety is what an ecosystem depends on. It is helpful to think of an ecosystem as a woven carpet; if you pull on a loose thread thinking that it might only affect the thread and those closest to it then you may be shocked as the single thread unravels the whole carpet.
Trees are like natural air conditioners and water pumps. They cool the earth by giving shade and recycling water. By cooling the air and ground around them, the shade from trees helps cool the earth’s temperature overall. Trees also help moderate the earth’s rainfall, which also helps keep the temperature cooler.

Every day we use or eat something that has come from a tree. Think about the paper we write on, the pencils we use and the furniture we sit on – they all came from trees. The uses of wood are virtually endless. In addition to being processed into products, trees are also cut down so their wood can be used as fuel to cook food and heat homes. This is where man begins abusing them badly.

But we don’t always have to cut down a tree to be able to make something from it. The rubber that you find on soles of your shoes is made from sap that comes from a type of tree found in Brazil, India, China and Southeast Asia. Cork is the bark of the evergreen cork oak found in the Mediterranean region. Cork has the ability to contract when squeezed and then expand back out again.

How many different fruits or nuts can you think of that come from trees? What about the maple syrup we like to eat on our pancakes? Sap is tapped from the sugar maple to make maple syrup. And did you know that cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree that grows in India?


In short am saying that tress are so crucial to our lives that we need to protect them. At CARBON ZERO we do our best through the improved cook stoves that use less firewood thus saving forests. These cook stoves directly benefit both the forest’s fringe villages and the wildlife habitats. The good thing is that the people understand its values and have enthusiastically welcomed them. With improved cook stoves there is reduced amount of biomass harvested and therefore help conserve forests and their ecosystems.

As you can probably tell from the important reasons that are stated above, the deforestation and destruction of the world’s forests and rainforests could have disastrous consequences for the planet Earth itself, the human race and all the other species that exist on this planet with us. This is why it is important that we try as hard as possible to stop the deforestation the planet’s forests.


In Kaptagat area in the Rift Valley in Kenya speaking to the community members they say that a few years ago before they got energy efficient cook stoves form Carbon Zero Lessios forest (pictured above) was highly destroyed by villagers due to insatiable search for wood fuel. Many trees were cut down day in day out as families sort for a source of fuel. This threatened the forest existence. But the community members gladly indicate that after they received the stoves from Carbon Zero they have been able to save the forest as little wood is harvested.

Shimba Hills verification

I landed in Mombasa for the 3rd verification of our Shimba Hills Improved Cookstove Project on the 30th of June. I was nervous and excited at the same time, as this was my first on-site cookstove audit and also my very first trip to Kenya, but my worries soon disappeared and had a very interesting time both professionally and personally.  The verification visit went well which is mainly thanks to our Kenyan colleagues – and our in-country coordinator Moses in particular. He and his team made sure the smooth running of the site visit, no matter what difficulties we encountered on the way, crossing from the lush villages of Golini to the arid hills of Maungu. What also made this trip special was the hospitality of the Kenyan people and I am grateful for their warm welcome at each and every household we visited. I am looking forward very much to coming back one day, until then asante sana once again!

Our auditor, Mr. Sunil Kathuria with our country coordinator Moses Maina in Maungu

Our auditor, Mr. Sunil Kathuria with our country coordinator Moses Maina in Maungu

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Happy cookstove user

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Not so happy cookstove user

Progress in our Kenyan CDM Programme of Activities (PoA)

The last meeting of the CDM Executive Board was an important one for co2balance; despite monitoring our PoA within the strict requirements of the methodology, we found we would be unable to claim carbon credits because we had followed updated (and improved) guidance related to choosing sample sizes.  Nearly 1 year ago, we began challenging this technical obscurity in which best practice in project development was effectively outlawed and, as a result, the CDM Secretariat eventually raised this issue to the Executive Board (EB) for consideration at this, their 80th meeting.

The EB meet around 10 times per year to discuss issues relating to the governance of the world’s only legally binding market-based mechanism to mitigate climate change.  Owing to its basis in international law, the CDM is famed for its bureaucracy, pedantry and resistance to change and as I recently found out, you can actually watch the deliberation of the EB live via a webcast – would this be wise, these things considered?

I have 2 confessions 1) I did indeed watch the meeting and 2) I kind of enjoyed it.  This was almost entirely due to the  meeting being  chaired in admirable fashion by Hugh Sealy of Barbados/Canada, whose mellifluous accent and jargon-busting, no-nonsense approach kept me glued to my headset.  Im happy to say that common sense prevailed, our challenge was noted and accepted by the EB and we, in some small way, have changed a global framework for the better.



LSC in Kaliro

On the 11th of July, co2balance and WAACHA, one of our local partners, net with the community in Kaliro district in a Loal Stakeholder Consultation meeting for our newest water VPA. It was one of the most vibrant meetings I have attended and led in my 4 years at co2balance.

This particular LSC had lots of questions on the technical implementation of the project and how the community would get involved. They were also quite keen on the quality of water available and the steps we would take to ensure the water available was safe.

The District Chairperson made an appearance for the meeting and spoke passionately about the need for such partnerships to meet their objectives as funds were short. he greatly expressed his gratitude and from the manner of his speech, there was no suprise how he is the District Chairperson. His crowd engagement was pretty impressive.

Kaliro District Chairperson

Kaliro District Chairperson

Each borehole was represented by ten people and led by a Water resource committee chairperson and this was confirmed during the introductions when they would stand up in unison. They assured us of their full cooperation after a discussion on their roles in borehole management and ensuring health and sanitation in their villages. The emphasis was well placed on this by the chairperson of WAACHA but it was brief as we have future planned Water and Sanitation activities as well.

All the discussions were translated and often time Noah, the Projects Director from WAACHA added a linguistic footnote. There are some phrases best expressed in the local language, which was to me a new dialect of Lusoga language. The main difference i could tell was the “D” were replaced with “Z” for example “Kuidha” which means to come was “Kuiza”.

Andrew and Noah during a discussion

Andrew and Noah during a discussion

This is a partnership I am loking forward to and I greatly thank the people of Kaliro for their warm welcome.

Noah introducing his team.

Noah introducing his team.