Impacts of solar lamps in Africa

There are approximately 110 million off-grid households in Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa only 9% of the rural population has access to electricity. An estimated 58.3 million of those without grid access are using kerosene to light their homes. In Kenya for example 92% of the population uses kerosene for lighting. However, kerosene is expensive, typically accounting for 10 – 15% of total household income. It is bad for people’s health and the World Bank estimates that breathing kerosene fumes is the equivalent of smoking two packets of cigarettes a day. If this wasn’t enough, a single kerosene lamp emits one tone of carbon dioxide over five years.

CO2balance’s long term vision upon realizing financing goals is to distribute 10,000 solar lamps to rural communities in Africa that are most at need. Moreover, there will be several significant impacts from this project across the environment, society, people’s health and the overall well-being.

The tables below present the significant impacts of the project such as 2,000 tco2e will avoided from being released to the atmosphere in each year.  In addition, a family in Kenya could saves £74 on average on kerosene use and young people can study 2 more hours per day.

solar lamps

Water Provision in Sub-Saharan Africa

Across the globe, around 780 million people lack access to safe water supplies, which equates to approximately one in eight (JMP, 2012). In Africa alone, around one third of the continent’s population are without access to clean water and UNICEF estimates that  over 1.5 million child deaths per year are caused as a result of drinking contaminated water (UNICEF/WHO, 2009).

Over the last few decades, rural water demand in developing countries has primarily been addressed through the large-scale implementation of decentralized water points such as boreholes and shallow wells. However, one of the major barriers to clean water provision is that many countries do not have the infrastructure, regulation or financial capacity to conduct maintenance and repair programs. In Africa, existing water points are generally owned by community groups or Village Health and Water Committee (VHWC’s) and more often than not fall into disrepair because maintenance schemes have been poorly managed, or prove too expensive.

To highlight the magnitude of the problem, approximately 35% of all boreholes (345,071) in Sub Saharan Africa are estimated to be dysfunctional-see table below (Rural Water Supply Network 2009)

borehole dataDespite millions of pounds being invested in new water infrastructure there is evidently a greater need to implement effective long-term water management programs that prevent existing water points from becoming damaged. CO2balance are currently exploring innovative new ways to tackle this problem through carbon finance, which could indeed provide a viable means of addressing water scarcity across the developing world.

“Proud of my energy efficient stove”

In Karindundu Village in Mathira meet a very cheerful elderly mother by the name Martha Wangari.
ZZZZZZZZZZZZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIShe lives with her husband in their farm. As she welcomes us to her homestead, she offers to prepare us some tea. She went out in her field around the homestead to collect some firewood. She was only out for a few minutes and she returned with only a small buddle of fire wood in her hand.

On seeing the amazement on our faces she smiles and says:
“hii kuni haiwezi pika chai ukitumia jiko yangu ya zamani. Lakini kwa hii jiko mpya,tutapika chai n a hii kuni haitamalizika” (She says if she were using her 3-stone stove, that amount of firewood would be barely enough to cook tea. But using the CZ stove, she will use the firewood and the buddle won’t be spent).

As we wait for the tea to be ready, the environment in the kitchen is fresh and free of smoke. She smiles happily and says:“ kama tungekua tunatumia jiko yangu ya zamani, mungekua mumeketi huko nje kwa sababu ya moshi” (She says, if she were using her old 3- stone stove, the environment in her kitchen would have been very uncomfortable due to a lot of smoke).

She continued to share with us how cooking was always a nightmare to her before she received the new CZK stove. She says that excess smoke caused her a lot of sneezing and coughing.
As we bid her goodbye, she also thanked the CZK Company for a life changing experience that she is always proud of.

The impact of the co2balance cookstoves in Bugasera, Rwanda

In the past weeks we have analysed several monitoring studies conducted for the VPA 1 Bugesera Improved Cook Stoves (GS 1267) project and we were very pleased to receive such positive feedbacks on the project from our stove users.

The Kitchen Performance Test aimed to provide a quantified figure of the actual wood saving of the stove, while the Kitchen Surveys provided more qualitative data on the experience of using improved stove in the household. All respondents interviewed for the Kitchen Surveys answered that they are happy with the improved stoves and use it on average twice a day. 77% of the interviewees indicated that the stove used less wood, while 12% and 10% appreciated that the improved stove reduced cooking time and produced less smoke respectively. In line with this founding, 94% of stove users answered that they enjoyed faster cooking since using the improved cookstove.

The Kitchen Surveys also explored the wood use before and after the project to triangulate the quantitative data from the Kitchen Performance Tests on the changes in wood use. The data from the Kitchen Performance Tests showed that the average wood consumption decreased as a result of the project (from 13.62 to 3.22 kg/hh/day) and the answers in the Kitchen Surveys reinforced the assumptions that it lead to improved health and socio-economic conditions of the households.

According to the answers the smoke level in the households decreased significantly, as 85% of the respondents noticed less smoke produced by the co2balance designed “Gabanyibicanwa stove “ compared to the 3-stone fire. 54% of the people told that their overall health condition improved after adopting the improved cookstove while 23%-23% noted less coughing and less eye irritation. Combined with wood fuel measurements taken during the Baseline Survey it is clear that use of the stove results in a cleaner and healthier cooking environment.

12 km per day less

Ruth Nanyanzi is a Form 3 student of Iganga girls Secondary School. She comes from the village of Iguliryo in Kaliro district in Eastern Uganda.

Ruth Nanyanzi a resident of Iguliryo

Ruth Nanyanzi a resident of Iguliryo

Every holiday she spends a week at home in the village. Her village is not connected into the national grid and so she is restricted to daytime hours to get that extra study needed to compete with the students from the urban areas of the country who get extra hours in the night to do their holiday study.

Currently her home is located 2km away fro the nearest borehole. She has to go there three times every day which adds to a total of 12 kms. This makes her lose a lot of time that could have been used for study and as a result she has much less time for study and for her social time as well. However, there is a borehole right in front of the house where she lives  that has been non functional for about 5 years.

Borehole hidden by a plant camouflage

Borehole hidden by a plant camouflage

When I first went to this area, I did not recognize it as it had been overgrown by a bush in the middle of the garden.

Presently this borehole has been rehabilitated, much to the delight of the community. Ruth is currently at school preparing for what we used to call “Moscow” exams ( the exams the year before finals). When she gets home and gets the motions going to prepare for her final year, she will be extayic at the prospect of going 12 km less every day to collect safe water.

Progress in Malawi

Last week we received confirmation from the Gold Standard that our first 4 micro scale borehole projects in Malawi had been Listed. This is a land mark in what has been a slow moving project but one that carries an enormous amount of potential.

2014 07 14 Malawi Borehole Picture #2

The project aims to improve access to clean water in one of the world’s poorest countries, ranked 160th out of 182 in the Human Development Index. In fact according to the United Nations about 74% of the population still lives below the poverty line of $1.25 a day and an incredible 90% are below the $2 a day threshold.

On top of this Malawi is considered a water stressed country with less than 1,700m3 of fresh water per capita. This problem is amplified by remarkable population growth, especially in its urban areas. Future water demand projections predict that Malawi will fall to less than 1,000 m3 of fresh water per capita as early as 2015.

2014 07 14 Malawi Borehole Picture

Against this back drop only 65% of Malawi’s population has access to improved water and sanitation. Therefore to achieve its 2015 MDG targets more than 6 million additional people will require access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Our projects are playing a small but vital role in helping Malawi meet its MDG targets and we have now repaired more than 60 boreholes which are currently providing communities with clean and safe water, while also helping to avoid current and future GHG emissions.

Getting ready for ESOS

Some you may be aware of the Government’s new Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which forces “large undertakings” to audit their energy usages and report them to the Environment Agency.

The concept is that through activity managing your energy usage it will open up your eyes to potential areas of energy savings, which has the “double whammy” of saving money as well as carbon emissions.

ESOS has been created in response the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU).  In layman’s terms it is an assessment of your energy consumption, so very much like the Greenhouse Gas Audits that we regularly carry out for our clients.

You have to comply if you are a “large undertaking”, meaning that you….

  • employ at least 250 persons; or
  • employ fewer than 250 persons but has an annual turnover in excess of 50 million euro and an annual balance sheet in excess of 43 million euro

You need to submit your data to the Environment Agency by 5th December 2015, but as ever preparation is vital and it is important to start looking at the way you collect and manage your data as soon as possible.

As ever with new schemes such as this there are lots of holes that need to be finalised and definitions to be clarified; we’ll post more articles on the scheme as they are made public, along with more information about how we can support you to ensure that you are fully complaint – if you have any queries in the meantime then please get in touch.

Women and Water- a lifetime struggle

The empowerment of women and girls is not only important for an equitable society, it is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed-upon development goals, and improve the quality of life of women, men, families, and communities.

The situation of access to clean water and sanitation in rural Africa is even more dismal than the previous statistics imply. The WHO (2006) stated that, in 2004, only 16% of people in sub-Saharan Africa had access to drinking water. Not only is there poor access to readily accessible drinking water, even when water is available in there are risks of contamination. When water boreholes are built and water sanitation facilities are developed, they are improperly maintained due to limited financial resources. Water quality testing is not performed as often as is necessary, and lack of education among the people utilizing the water source leads them to believe that as long as they are getting water from a borehole, it is safe. In many communities once a source of water has been provided, quantity of water is often given more attention than quality of water.

The grim reality of the global water crisis is that it disproportionately impacts on women. Throughout Africa women and girls are the main providers of household water supply and sanitation, and also have the primary responsibility for maintaining a clean home environment. The lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities therefore affects women and girls most acutely. The implications of lack of clean water and access to adequate sanitation are widespread. Young children die from dehydration and malnutrition; results of suffering from diarrheal illnesses that could be prevented by clean water and good hygiene are always rampant with the scarcity of this vital commodity.

According to the World Health Organization about 157 million people in the Eastern and Southern Africa region (ESAR) are not connected to a clean and safe water distribution system, and thus need to use external water sources. Around 247 million people have no access to improved sanitation. In countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, well over half of the population has to practise open defecation. Poor water and sanitation, as well as unsafe hygiene practices are the main causes of diarrhoea, one of the main child killers in the region. Each year more than 250,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhoeal diseases.
girls with water
The burden of fetching drinking water from outdoor sources falls disproportionately on girls and women. When water is scarce, women and girls may have to travel longer distances to obtain water, which can expose them to danger. Collecting water consumes a reasonable amount of time thus considerably reducing the time women and girls have available for other activities such as childcare, income generation and school attendance. This work is also extremely physically demanding with women carrying weights of approximately 20kg. In fact the the total number of kilometres walked each day by the female population, in the course of gathering water for their families, is the equivalent of several times to the moon and back.

Girls often have to walk long distances to fetch water early in the morning affecting their schooling. After such an arduous chore, they may arrive late and tired at school. Being ‘needed at home’ is a major reason why children, especially girls from poor families, drop out of school. Providing water closer to homes increases girls’ free time and boosts their school attendance.

Faced with broken boreholes and limited resources communities are often presented with a dilemma, drink potentially harmful water from unprotected sources or boil it as a means of purification. In many cases individuals may not even be aware of the risks of drinking dirty water and even if they are they may be so energy poor that boiling water as a treatment method may not be an option; and when it is, it is expensive and time consuming.

Carbon Zero is working on an initiative to help rural communities have access to clean and safe drinking water in Kenya through seeking to develop borehole rehabilitation projects in the country. This will ensure that that women and the community at large are directly involved in the planning and management of water supply and sanitation programmes, and that hygiene promotion interventions are specifically designed to reach them. In addition – the work load for women and girls will be greatly reduced by improving access to potable and safe water from protected water sources.

Sierra Leone Boreholes

CO2balance are proud to announce their first ever carbon project in Sierra Leone has been listed today on the Gold Standard Registry. The Gold Standard Micro-Scale Borehole Project in Sierra Leone involves the rehabilitation and maintenance of hand-pumped boreholes owned by communities in Bombali District, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The CO2balance borehole project will create a network of functioning boreholes throughout the country. In addition to supplying clean, safe water and mitigating climate change, this project will impact local peoples lives by:

  • Resulting in less wood used by households, which will reduce pressure on local ecosystems
  • Reduce time spent collecting wood to boil water
  • Reduce incidence of illness (and therefore less opportunity costs for families)
  • Reduce expenditure on wood fuel, leaving money free for other household expenses
  • Increase familiarity within the communities about the planned preventative maintenance of boreholes

Our partners on the ground Leone Resources are responsible for the borehole repair programme with work due to commence as soon as the terrible EBOLA outbreak enables the repair programme to move forward. CO2balance would like to take this opportunity to wish all our partners and indeed wider afield, anybody who has been effected by the EBOLA outbreak in Sierra Leone good health and every safety in this awful time.


Our team on the ground in Sierra Leone at the local stakeholder meeting.



The Carbon Bubble: A barrier to curbing fossil fuel use

Here is some analysis (though not an exhaustive list) of the “carbon bubble” and of why it is so difficult to curb fossil fuel use in our 21st century world economy. For reference, 81% or 12,150 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) of world primary energy demand was met by fossil fuels in 2013, with this figure predicted to stay above 80% as far ahead as 2035, primarily driven by increasing demand in the BRIC economies, particularly India and China (IEA, 2013).  The diagram below and four numbers produced by Bill Mckibben and Carbon Tracker in 2010 can go a long way towards explaining the “carbon bubble” and its impact on curbing fossil fuel use:


  1. 2° Celsius

167 countries responsible for 90% of global carbon emissions have signed the Copenhagen Accord (2009), which states 2°C warming as an international legally binding target for curtailing climate change. Any worldwide average global temperature rise above this target has been deemed as “dangerous”. Moreover given the grave situation we have (knowingly) got ourselves into, we need to be honest and clear as to the implications of 2°C warming. The repercussions of 2°C warming reach deeper than we tend to imagine. 2°C is a death sentence for many of tomorrow’s most vulnerable communities. Again for reference it is important to remember that all the data on our current warming trajectory is perfectly in line with temperature rises in the region of 4-6°C. It is fair to say, based on many (and ongoing) discussions in the climate change discourse that there is a widespread view that a 4-6°C future is incompatible with any reasonable characterisation of an organised, equitable and civilised global community.

  1. 565 Billion tonnes CO2e

An estimate of the amount of CO2e humans can emit from fossil fuels into the atmosphere by 2050 in order to have a 50:50 chance of staying below the 2°C target. This has also been termed the “coin-flip” scenario.

  1. 37.4 Billion tonnes CO2e

This figure represents anthropogenic carbon emissions from fossil fuel use in 2013. At this rate the 40 year carbon budget would be used up in less than 15-20 years.

  1. 2,795 Billion tonnes CO2e (The Carbon Bubble)

This number describes the amount of carbon already on the books of the world’s fossil fuel companies, or the proven fossil fuel reserves. This does not include $674billion invested in 2013 to find and develop new potentially stranded assets e.g. offshore Brazil, Artic, Venezuela and UK unconventional gas. Doing the math there are 5 times as much fossil fuel reserves as is internationally recognised as safe to burn. This has been coined the “carbon bubble”. Although the reserves are still technically in the ground, economically they are already aboveground. Reserves are embedded in share prices, companies are borrowing money against them, and nations are basing their budgets on expected returns of their reserves. Altogether fossil fuel reserves are worth $72 trillion. This is approximately in line with worldwide GDP of $74 trillion in 2013. Essentially this means that fossil fuel reserves equal to the value of all economic activity in the entire globe in an entire year will have to be written off in order to avoid 2°C warming. Clearly this will become a contentious issue.  How will investors be compensated for their stranded assets? The short answer is nobody knows. The long answer is also nobody knows. Some investors may thrive but there are likely to be more losers than winners.

The numbers aren’t exact of course, but the carbon bubble makes the housing bubble and subsequent crash in 2008 look insignificant by comparison. It also may not necessarily burst. All fossil fuels may yet be burned in which case investors will do fine, assuming they write letters of apology to their grandchildren. All in all there is a clear future incompatibility between healthy fossil fuel balance sheets and a healthy planet.


Carbon Tracker: Unburnable Carbon 2013

International Energy Agency: 2013 World Energy Outlook