Doing Firewood Maths

In our daily work at Carbon Zero we interact with community members using our improved cook stoves. And last week was no different. Our field staffs in Kisumu East were out in the community creating awareness on the usage of the improved stove. While in the field they met a lady by the name Emma Anyango one of the many Carbon Zero improved cook stoves beneficiaries in the area.  Speaking to her; she noted that that she is 33 years of age, married with three children.

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As we sort to understand from her if the CZK stove has had any impact on her life Emma narrated that ….”Initially, being a house wife, made me depend on my husband who is a water vendor, for financial support. The money he provided was not sufficient to cater for all our needs. He could hardly afford getting us basic needs.  Before receiving the improved cook stove from carbon zero Kenya, I used to use the three stone stove which used to consume a lot of fuel. The traditional stove was so wasteful, consuming a lot of fuel.’’

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She continued saying……’’ Our village is approximately 7kms from the nearest forest; hence the only way to get fuel is through purchasing in the market. The fuel prices are high and worst they also fluctuate during the rainy season making it difficult to save. I would buy 5 bundles a week which cost me ksh 1000/- and still add some more in the middle of the week and the amount of smoke emitted made me cough and my eyes watery making cooking a pitiable affair. I would spend a lot more taking my three kids to hospital as they were always coughing – respiratory diseases were just too much. Hospital bills were making me and my husband even more poor as time went by.’’

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Emma further stated that….’’being a beneficiary of the CZK stove changed my life completely. First, I got to interact with Christine Atira, a regional CZK staff in this area, she held my hand and taught me how to use the stove. She emphasized on climate change issues and the need to protect the environment by proper wood management. The CZK stove uses less fuel wood while retaining heat. Now I buy 2 bundles of wood which cost me kshs 400/= in a week thus saving KES 600/-, money I managed to save overtime and opened up a small shop selling general household items. This has helped us as a family increase our income. Now I no longer depend on my husband for everything, I support him in paying fees for our kids plus catering for other basic needs for our family. With the shop I can afford a decent meal for my kids who are now healthier and even perfuming better in school. All I can say is that let Carbon Zero continue with this initiative to reach out to many more families that are equally suffering. Cooking may sound like a non-issue in a household but it plays a key role in the overall survival of a family. To be sincere Carbon Zero made me a proud African woman. Now my kitchen is very clean and cooking has been made a wonderful experience.’’

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Renovation of Aprons in the Lango Sub-region

An apron slab is a smooth impermeable surface constructed around a borehole (hand pump) to prevent spilt water soaking into the ground. Its purpose is to prevent pollution of the groundwater supply and prevent the development of puddles or muddy conditions that are unpleasant, can attract mosquitoes, flies and animals around the borehole which could lead to the transmission of diseases.

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An apron slab

Most times borehole ground water is polluted by the sipping in of pooled contaminated water at certain points like a cracked apron and drainage line – this water can easily soak in and reach the aquifer if not managed. Pooling of water is mainly as a result of human activities around the borehole like washing clothes and utensils and even taking a bath.

Co2balance with the help of its Project Officer and trained village masons in the districts of Kole, Alebtong, Otuke and Dokolo recently gave damaged borehole aprons a major facelift aimed at improving the sanitation around the boreholes.

Pictured are some of the boreholes that were renovated.

Making it Work; Local Community Engagement and Leadership

The role of women in global development is very vital and cannot be underestimated.  Women play major roles in the economy of any given country. In Africa women form about 50% of the total population and this creates the need for effective participation of this segment of the population in all development initiatives.

In Kenya women empowerment is a key development agenda seeking to empower individual women and groups of women/girls with the requisite skills they need to effect change within their communities. The government deeply understands investing in women is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do. It’s apparent that investing in women increases women’s income leading to improvements in children’s health, nutrition, education and thus a better society for all.

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In most rural areas most men have left for greener pastures in urban centers in search of wage income leaving most women as the actual heads of the households with no adequate sources of income. These women are left as the chief providers of family welfare in such basic areas such as food, water, fuel general children welfare and housing. This situation brings about a socially disruptive pattern which leaves women with no choice but to look for ways of solving these problems.

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So where do we start the process of empowering women and girls? It always pays to start with the basics. At Carbon Zero we have worked with rural communities since inception and with this understanding we are committed to providing opportunities for women to become more involved in their neighborhoods and communities, and build on their existing skills, and ideas to develop themselves. We do this community development work through a range of self-run groups, leadership training, peer-led trainings, and volunteer development opportunities.

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With the financial support from a UK based international organization Global Footsteps; Carbon Zero Kenya is currently partnering with Aniga Women Initiative to produce close to 700 energy efficient cook stoves.  Aniga women initiative is a local women consortium bringing together several women groups participating in rural development at the grassroots level in Seme Constituency. For the last one month the women have been thoroughly trained on stove production and marketing. This has enabled them gain hands on skills to become stove artisans while at the same time get a means of income as they sell the stoves to locals in the community.  In the long run the project aims to create a sustainable means of livelihood for the trained women while at the same time replacing the traditional three stone stoves within the area with the improved energy efficient cook stove.

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The improved stoves shall cut on the average wood consumption which will in the long run reduce deforestation. In equal measure the project shall also;

  • Save up to 50% fuel (Smith 2007)
  • Health benefits to women and children; reduced coughing and eye irritations
  • Poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment as women will spend less time gathering wood and cooking –  this will enable them to focus on other activities such as earning extra income

Uncovering Success; getting feedback directly from project beneficiaries in the rural communities

Many of us wake up every morning and go to work; we do everything possible to ensure we attain results – tangible results for that matter. But how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?

At this point I need to introduce my Company and what we do. I work for Carbon Zero Kenya an environmental project developer with more than 7 years experience implementing energy efficient stove projects. In close cooperation with our UK partner Co2balance UK Ltd – CZK has distributed approximately 62,000 improved cook stoves throughout East Africa. These projects have helped local communities improve their standards of living across environmental, social and economic domains, by minimizing long journeys spent collecting wood fuel, reducing deforestation, providing local employment opportunities and most importantly reducing health hazards.

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Late last month we made visits to our project areas in Aberdares, Nyeri, Kisumu and Eldoret and the responses we got from the beneficiaries were so promising moving into the future. We visited many households with our improved cook stoves and met women who narrated over and over again how the stoves have drastically helped reduce the demand for firewood and thus protecting local forests, which in a bigger picture leads to reduced CO2 emissions. The women further explained how the Carbon Zero efficient cook stoves have enabled a superior and more efficient combustion process, which has improved the air quality within their respective homes.

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A majority of the beneficiaries we met reported less smoke, less eye irritations, ease to breathe while cooking, less coughing and less suffering from headache. They further noted that besides improvements in environmental impact and health of women and children, the distribution of the efficient cook stoves have led to immense social and economical development.  They can save money which would otherwise have been consumed by firewood to invest in other vital family needs i.e. paying school fees for their kids. The stories uncovered successes of our cook stove projects beyond our imagination.

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Some women noted with that the carbon zero improved cook stoves are safe, stable and dramatically reducing the time, cost, and danger associated with collecting fuel from risky forests.  With all these positive feedback from our project beneficiaries we were able to get back to our initial question; how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?  These responses gave us a clear picture – they answered the question very well and to this effect we can only aim to do more to reach as many more areas. Many times we have understood the reduction in wood use from using our improved cook stoves but with this visit to we are now able to understand both the intended and unintended impacts of our projects.

 

 

 

May Field Visit……..

Last month Lucas and I had the chance to visit our project areas in the districts of Kole, Alebtong, Dokolo, Otuke and Kaliro. While there we carried out many activities that ranged from conducting a local stakeholder consultation meeting for a new borehole rehabilitation project, a visit to the Ministry of Water district office – Lira branch, the newly rehabilitated boreholes in Kaliro and also a variety of different water supply schemes in Kabarole district.

Our first event was holding the local stakeholder consultation meeting with local stakeholders in which we sought their opinion on the projects’ design and social and environmental impacts; this was an essential step in implementing the project in which the local community has ownership – thereby maximising the chances of successful adoption.

The meeting was very successful, with stakeholders actively engaging with the project and participating in discussions. The stakeholders said that they found the meeting useful and informative, and the majority of feedback concerning the project was very positive.

We later moved to the Eastern part of Uganda and visited Kaliro District where CO2balance recently rehabilitated 10 broken down boreholes. With the help of our partners WAACHA and local hand pump mechanics, the boreholes were all functioning very well and the communities had all been sensitized on WASH during our annual training programmes.

Another region visited was the Western part of Uganda and while there, we met with a local organisation (HEWASA) a branch of Caritas that specializes in Water, Sanitation and Health among other activities. They gave us a lot of insight on the different water technologies that are being installed in the Kabarole region such as rainwater harvesting systems and gravity flow schemes which are an ideal solution due to its mountainous nature.