Leave No One Behind – World Water Day!

Today is World Water Day! This years focus for tackling the global water crisis is addressing why so many people are being left behind in the plight to ensure equitable access to safe water for all.

‘Whoever you are,
wherever you are,
water is your human right’.
http://www.worldwaterday.org

In 2010 the UN recognised access to clean drinking water a human right, ‘essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’. Today there remains billions of people living without safe water in their homes, schools, workplaces just among a few. Marginalised groups such as women, children, elderly, disabled, refugees and indigenous people are often overlooked and face discrimination trying to access safe water. The hard reality – people are struggling to survive, unable to escape the poverty trap and live prosperous lives to their full potential.

Access to a safe water source underpins public health and wellbeing, and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a secure and thriving global population. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Safe Water and Sanitation – is clear with its primary target, ‘Water for all by 2030’. By definition and in principle of sustainable development progress benefiting everyone – this means leaving no one behind. Access to water underpins health and wellbeing and is therefore critical to sustainable development and paving the way for a stable and prosperous world.

We cannot progress as a global society while so many are living without safe water. Although some progress has been made across Africa, there remains approximately only 30% of rural populations with an improved water source within a 30-minute trip from their house. There are a multitude of reasons for people being left behind in access to safe water, from gender, ethnicity, religion, forced displacement to economic and social status to environmental degradation and climate change. Many rely on unprotected sources, open to contamination. The lack of safe water is amongst the biggest drivers of death and disease across the African continent.

To ‘leave no one behind’, there must be increased focused to include marginalised communities and societal groups discriminated against. Water services must meet their needs, and to ensure efforts are implemented sustainably, they must be included in decision-making processes.

One of the main types of projects CO2balance implement are safe water projects. Households that lack a clean, safe water source are forced to collect water from unsafe sources. As a result they must purify that unclean water to make it safe for consumption, boiling it on open, inefficient fires which require large amounts of firewood.

By repairing broken safe water sources within communities we provide thousands of people with a safe water source, and offset emissions by removing the need to boil the water.

Our projects follow a stringent ‘inclusive’ design process to maximize participation of the local stakeholders, with emphasis for reaching and involving women in the project design and decision-making processes.

We implement projects in marginalised areas, reaching communities and specifically women who are isolated from developmental progress, unable to access improved technologies and information of such. We currently have established safe water projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Eritrea, Kenya with projects being established in Zambia and Mozambique.


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Catastrophic Cyclone Idai


Considered one of the most severe tropical cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port city of Biera, Mozambique on Thursday 14th March. Winds were reported to have exceeded 177km/h (106mph), leaving a trail of devastation as it moved inland. In its wake, Idai devastated critical infrastructure in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Tete, including electricity, communication and road networks.

Many of the severely affected areas are inaccessible, cut off by extensive flooding and destroyed or disrupted transport routes, leaving hundreds of thousands of cyclone victims isolated from emergency relief efforts. Many of these inaccessible areas are uncontactable, although where contact has been made it is reported food, water and supplies are coming to the end, with only a few days worth remaining.

We are currently working on establishing safe water projects in Manica Province with not-for-profit organisation Village Water, who are currently in Mozambique on the ground working tirelessly assisting with local relief efforts and ensuring their teams on the ground are safe. The official death roll is currently at 300, although it could rise to above 1,000, with 217 confirmed in Mozambique. There are a reported 15,000 people still in need of rescue, it is unknown how many amongst these are accounted for or missing. According to our local partners working the project area, in Chimoio town in Manica Province there are 1600 now homeless people camping in 3 schools as houses have been destroyed, whilst 2km outside of the town people remain stuck in trees as the rain continues and roads and bridges have been swept away. Dombe has been severely hit with virtually impossible road access and no communications, with 50 people reported dead already.

Access into rural communities remains incredibly difficult and our rehabilitation efforts are likely to be delayed. Yet, unfortunately, following this disaster an increasing number of people are now without access to safe water as fully working safe water sources have now been swept away.

More than ever, the provision of clean water in the disaster-stricken regions is vital. From standing flood water, high numbers of unrecovered causalities and pollution from destroyed infrastructure and vehicles, water-borne diseases will be rife and ground water supplies contaminated. Affected people are reported to be drinking unchlorinated well water due to the lack of safe, accessible options. The entire populations of affected areas are vulnerable within a disaster like this, although the young, pregnant and old are more susceptible to the associated risks, making the provision of safe water essential.

As extensive flooding continues, and more rain expected over the coming days, our thoughts are with those most affected, relief workers and members of society donating their time and energy to help the devastated regions. There is likely to be a long road ahead to recovery in Mozambique, and CO2balance are committed to continuing our efforts to provide safe water in Manica Province.

ETHIOPIA EFFICIENT COOKSTOVE PROJECT: STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Meet Mahlet Gebrie .

Mahlet (28) lives with her husband and three young children (aged 3-9) in Birbir town in Mirab Abaya woredas. She is amongst the many unemployed high school graduates in the area. The only income earned is by her husband from hard daily labor, roughly 30 ETB/day (approx. 82p), which is insufficient to cover the basic necessities for the family, including food, clothing, medication, school fees and equipment.

In 2017 co2balance with Vita (an Irish NGO working on the ground in Ethiopia) launched an improved cookstove carbon-offset project in Mirab Abaya and Chencha woredas.

As well as displacing carbon emissions, our projects also support the local economy and empower women in the project country, tackling key developmental hindrances. As such, the project provided technical training to two local women’s enterprise groups, teaching them how to construct improved cookstoves. The project also provided financial and management training, teaching the women well-rounded, transferable skills. Following training and support, their production capacity increased from 10 to 40 stoves a day.

The Bemenet Mirt Improved Cookstove Producing Enterprise during production.

One of the enterprises is ‘Bemenet Mirt Improved Cookstove Producing Enterprise’ that comprises of 10 previously unemployed women. Overall, the enterprise has supplied over 2000 improved cookstoves on a subsidised system. With a rate of 180 ETB percook stove (approx. £4.80), the enterprise has earned a gross income of 360,000 ETB (approx. £9770.00). Mahlet has been elected as the chair of this enterprise, managing the women and finances. Mahlet and the other women members share the dividend monthly, earning a monthly income.

The project has changed Mahlet and her family’s lives, providing a secure job, training and income. Outside of her duty in the enterprise, she has progressed with her education, and has graduated with a diploma in business administration. The additional income has allowed her family to build a new, beautiful house, which they have wanted to do for a long time. Mahlet and her husband are now leading a successful life, able to afford food, medication when needed, clothes and school uniforms and equipment for her children.

Mahlet and the Enterprise are now planning for the future and aim to purchase a vehicle to offer cookstove distribution services, as well as exploring the possibility of expanding the enterprises’ activities to include the production of bricks for the construction of buildings in the local community.    

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2016 the UN launched SDGs, a set of 17 measurable goals which together form a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

The project contributes to many of the SDGs, in particular:

Our improved cookstove projects have a range of positive impacts, not only to the project beneficiaries who receive the stoves, but to women who, through support from the project, produce the cookstoves for distribution.

ETHIOPIA BOREHOLE REHABILITATION PROJECT: STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Meet Abebech Asrat. 

Abebech lives in Dorze Kebele, in the Chencha region of Ethiopia. She is 36, and married with four children, two of which are very young. She is a user of the Dorze Borehole which was repaired and since maintained by co2balance in 2017 in partnership with NGO Vita.

“Before the project my children and I had to spend 2-3 hours a day collecting water from the Shayne River, the only water source nearby as our local borehole was broken. To make the river water safe for my family we had to spend up to 6 hours collecting firewood, 3-4 days per week to purify the water. Villagers often had bad diarrhea and other diseases from drinking unsafe water from the Shayne River. To get better people had to spend many hours waiting in health facilities and buy medication using up a lot of their money”.

“The borehole project has really changed my life in amazing ways”.

“The Dorze Borehole was broken for three years before co2balance repaired and began maintaining it in 2017. It has now been verified as safe drinking water from water quality testing. The project has helped me and the local community greatly”.

“I am one of the WASHCO committee members of this borehole and have gained key skills from training in water point administration, water hygiene, sanitation activities and women self-help income generating activities”.

“I have been empowered through the training I have received from the Borehole Project. I collect and deposit small fees from community members partaking in the borehole scheme. We each pay 1 Ethiopian Birr for 40 litres into a community fund and save this money for if we need to repair the Borehole”.

“Before the project my whole family, in particular my children, would get sick almost every month with diseases from drinking unsafe water, sometimes near death with severe diarrhea, costing us 420 Birr per month buying medicine. From the project, we have saved 4800 Birr per year which would have been spent buying medication to save my family. Now we spend only 495 Birr per year and save a lot more money. My children are now able to attend school for longer due to having a closer water source and no further need to collect wood for water purification”.

“The project also connected me with the Kebele Omo Microfinance Institute, and I am now able to borrow money to help me create a sustainable livelihood. I was able to borrow 2000 Birr to start poultry rearing for additional income. I earn 30 Birr per pay, resulting in more than 10,000 Birr per year from selling eggs. My husband now makes traditional Clothes and gets 800 Birr per week, about 40,000 Birr per year”.

The saving account of the WASHCO, Abebech’s husband making Cloth and the chickens she is rearing.

“The Borehole project has transformed my family life, we have better living conditions than ever before. My family is healthy and strong, we now drink pure water and eat a balanced diet. We now have additional income from selling eggs and chickens. With the extra income we have moved from our small hut to a more modern house with corrugated iron sheet cover. We can also afford the school materials such as exercise books, pencils and uniforms”.

Now other women in the village are eager to participate in the WASHCO committee to empower and educate themselves, access safe, accessible water for their families and put them in the position to access microfinance to help them access income generating activities to support themselves and their families.

In 2016, the UN launched their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 measurable goals which together form a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The project contributes to many of the SDGs, in particular Goals 3, 5, 6 and 13, proactively tackling women empowerment, good health and well-being, access clean water in the poorest communities trapped in poverty and offset climate emissions.

An Introduction

Hi all! I am Amie, the new Carbon Project Officer joining the Taunton team.

I am excited to be getting settled into the role, and to be part of a fantastic team doing invaluable work around the globe. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

I have found myself at co2balance following two years of working in ecological consultancy, project managing and undertaking protected species surveys. Although, my passion for climate change mitigation, poverty alleviation and international development sent me in search of something new.

My interest in these topics began whilst at university and through my travels throughout the developing world. I focused on the complex links between the environment, poverty and developing countries whilst studying at the University of York. My dissertation explored the relationship between these across the African continent, evaluating the effectiveness of community-based environmental projects in alleviating poverty in rural African communities, revolving around the sustainable development goals and environmental policy.

Following my graduation in 2016, I lived in Kruger National Park for three months carrying out biodiversity research and community-outreach initiatives. I am eager to get stuck in helping the continent that I am so fond of following numerous trips out there.

Outside of work I love walking and exploring outdoors, doing the odd bit of photography and being an animal lover visiting wildlife parks.

I am excited to see what is in store for me with co2balance, and eager to begin a career in helping tackle climate change and deliver improvements throughout rural communities throughout Africa and beyond.

Myself with Mykono the bull elephant we tracked regularly throughout the program in Kruger National Park to assist the anti-poaching units.