Carbon Zero Kenya Limited though not so pronounced remains a huge player in environmental conservation initiatives in Africa for instance considering its efforts to combat effects of climate change in Kenya. Over the past few years Carbon Zero has helped install over 65,000 cook stoves in the country which have gone a long way in reducing wood use and thus emission reductions. Among the many beneficiaries of Carbon Zero improved energy efficient cook stoves in Kenya are members of Kasighau location in Taita-Taveta district of Coast province. Kasigau location is a semi-arid land with magnificent Kasighau hills.
Since the installation of Carbon Zero stoves many benefits have been realized by the stove beneficiaries and the general community at large. Before the distribution of Carbon Zero stoves locals here used the three stone fires. As a result their kitchens were marred with smoke. These smoke kept men from these kitchens leaving women to “die” alone. Kids would occasionally come in either to help with a few kitchen chores or to get a share of their meals. The male partner (husbands) completely avoided the place and their share of the meal could be taken and consumed away from the kitchen. This was because the kitchen was always filled with irritating smoke and ash.
The smoky, ash filled kitchen could not be tolerated by the African man (husband) who is, according to the traditional and cultural perspective, superior in the family and his role in the family, being equated with that of a king. In Kasighau location we meet Mzee Muinde’s family and listened to their story before and after getting the carbon zero stoves, what has changed and how, what has been their experience etc.
After installation of Carbon Zero stoves the situation has drastically changed. There has been an increase in the involvement of male family members in kitchen cooking chores. This is because cooking has become easy and convenient for them. A smokeless kitchen is a major factor for the male family members to be involved. This has made the female members proud and happy as their male counterparts help in the cooking chores as demonstrated by Mrs. Muinde’s story.
Below; Mzee Muinde helping his wife prepare chapatis: An increase in male family members participation on cooking chores has been realized in the area since inception of Carbon Zero stoves.
Below; Mzee Muinde, 3rd from left, in the baraza meeting where he is the baraza’s secretary: unlike in the past, male members in the community can now help in the kitchen chores and still hold their positions in the society.
Based on this encounter, not only is The Carbon Zero Company providing beneficiaries with energy efficient and clean cooking stoves but also impacting their social lives positively. By involvement of the male partners in routine kitchen chores, there is reduction in the kitchen work load which was primarily for women alone. Women have more time to rest and also engage themselves in developmental issues that affect the society. The family harmony and unity is enhanced when the male and female partners co-operate in the kitchen chores. What used to be a social unit in theory is now a social unit practically.
While most governments in Africa acknowledge that empowering women and girls is a key contributor to economic development little as been done to achieve this noble goal. In Kenya women are the backbone of the rural economy. Nevertheless they receive only a fraction of the resources geared at ending poverty i.e. land, credit, inputs (such as improved seeds and fertilizers), agricultural training and information compared to men.
Empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods not only for women, but for everyone.
With this understanding Carbon Zero Kenya got into Kenya with a different approach on its aim to fight climate change and empower rural communities. It invested in working with rural women as agents of change and this has so far proved fruitful. Since the inception of Carbon Zero Kenya energy efficient cook stove projects in Nyanza most rural women with the neighborhood of Kisumu have been privileged to be beneficiaries of the improved cook stoves.
And it’s in this region that we meet Mama Akinyi who lives in Nyahera village which is located approximately 20kms west of Kisumu town. Mama Akinyi says that…“The traditional cook stove “kite adek” has been in my family for a long time .I used to buy firewood every week which cost me about 300/= Kshs, which was very expensive considering the fact that I did not have a constant source of income. Per month this totaled to 1200/= kshs,sometimes I was forced to purchase the firewood on credit basis from the wood vendor, this made me run away when I heard him looking for me. During rainy seasons the wood price escalated, wood was not readily available and sometimes if available was not dry.
One day at the market I met this lady from Umeme women group who introduced me to a jiko ya kisasa, artisanal cook stove”.
Having read my past blogs you will remember that Carbon Zero Kenya in 2014 trained a group of 15 women form the community (Umeme women group) on how to produce and assemble an efficient CZK artisanal cook stove.
Mama Akinyi continues to say; ……“The group used to do a demonstration on how to light and use the stove and this really motivated me to purchase it through an installment basis which was convenient for me .One of the key aspects of the stove was the ability to cut the firewood consumption by approximately 50% leading to the reduction on the amount that I was spending per month to purchase the firewood. The use of the artisanal stove has allowed me to purchase firewood in bulk thus enabling me to prepare the woodin terms of making sure they are well dried and readily available. Also my relationship with wood vendor has improved drastically because am able to buy in bulk and pay on time. Having cut wood consumption by 50% it made it easy to save and start an income generatingactivity.
With the funds I managed to save, I started a small kitchen garden where I planted kales and other vegetables .This provides food for my family and is also a source of livelihood. The money from this venture has made me join a “Chamaa” which has enabled me to buy a mobile phone making communication easier. Through this chamaa we do table banking with the money I get form my vegetables farm I intend to save money for a year and borrow a loan to take my son to the University. All this could not be possible were it not for the improved cook stove which was designed by carbon zero and produced by Umeme women group’’.
The story from mama Akinyi verily confirms the fact that Women are essential to ending poverty around the world. Strengthening women’s roles as leaders, entrepreneurs, consumers and economic stakeholders will transform the African continent and the world in totality.
Worldwide demand for energy to meet social and economic development and improve human welfare and health has been on the increase over the years. This has attracted many versions of energy efficient technologies springing up with an overall objective to save planet Earth.
Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd has remained a key player in the fight against climate change by developing projects that aim at mitigating the effects of the current global crisis. Over the last six years Carbon Zero has persistently worked with local communities in Kenya in promoting use of clean energy thus reducing demand for wood hence bringing down the overall speed of deforestation.
In the South of Mt Kenya is Mathira East project where the company has continued to advocate and champion the adoption of energy efficient cook stoves, not only with the aim to mitigate green house gases emission but also improving the lives of the community both economically and socially.
Among the notable aspects of the Carbon Zero energy efficient stove that attracts massive beneficiaries appreciation is in its great ability to save fuel. Wood fuel is a scarce commodity in this region. In addition, fuel costs have risen as more and more forests are cleared, therefore Carbon Zero stoves come in handy in the search of solutions for fuel shortages.
In one of the many success stories in the area, we meet Mrs. Grace Kangacu in her home. She is an aged grandmother from Mathaithi village. She shared her journey before and after receiving Carbon Zero energy efficient cook stove.
Pointing at three children playing outside her house, Mrs.Grace Kangacu explains how she felt deserted when her other grandchildren were growing up. Being a widow, she felt very lonely .She further recounts that before receiving the CZ stove she used to spend the nights alone because her sons’ wives could not allow the children to her kitchen as they feared a likelihood of fire accidents. ‘’They said that I am aged therefore not swift enough to handle the playful young ones’’ which she agrees it is true. ‘’All this changed when I started using my new (CZ) stove. Now my evenings are full of laughter from my grandchildren since their mothers are comfortable to let them visit. My new stove is safe as the fire is well enclosed inside the stove to prevent accidents and conserving a lot of energy too,’ ’ She confidently wraps up her testimony.
Seeing that wood collected from Mrs. Grace’s farm lasts longer while using a CZ stove, the need to make back up wood purchases has also become a thing of the past.
Carbon Zero Kenya is proud of making a change and brightening Graces’ sunset years.
Compiled by; Purity Maina, Virginia Njeri and Moses Maina
Our initial baseline findings before starting off the improved cook stove project in Kisumu East indicated that people are more than willing to shift from using traditional cook stoves to using improved cook stoves only if they perceive a genuine utility value in adopting the improved cook stove. The success of improved cook stoves depends much on its design. The design ought to be well adapted to people’s needs keeping in mind the general design principles of efficiency, emission reduction and ergonomics characteristics that the carbon zero stove exhibit.
The recently concluded Monitoring Kitchen Survey conducted in Kisumu East in August 2016 led us to a household where Masela Odero, a 73 year old widow who lives with her daughter in law in Simboi village that is about 12kms from Kisumu town recounted her story.
Masela noted that “…..The three stone stove wasn’t working for me, because the stones were not stable enough to hold a cooking pot firmly. I kept struggling to adjust the stove size according to the cooking pot size and also regulating the amount of fuel was chaotic .As a result I had to bend in order to cook therefore by the time the meal was ready I was too tired to eat hence I had to look for a quick alternative source of stove .I had to pay a neighbor who was demanding 500/- ksh to build me a none portable stove, little did I know that it was the beginning of my problems.”
She continued to narrate that “First the stove consumed a lot of wood fuel since not all the heat was channeled to the cooking pot also the stove had no liner a whole log would fit in it. The smoke emitted was a major concern because there was blackening of the wall from soot and coughing was inevitable. Cooking wasn’t pleasant because the too much heat would make me stay far away from the stove, to avoid this I told my daughter in law to cook all the time, of course it made her dodge by pretending to go to the river in order to avoid cooking. In addition to all this I had to pay for repairs and maintenance of stove, the clay used was poor quality. Cooking was a chore I enjoyed but now I was made to think twice”.
Further she stated that “Just as I was about to give up on cooking carbon zero distributed improved stoves at no fee and I was a lucky beneficiary. It is fixed thus it eliminates the possibility of it toppling over when the food is being cooked or when children are around. Less firewood is used, which means that the wood burns more efficiently in the improved stove as compared to traditional cook stove. The liner minimizes the smoke emitted outside this reduces Blackening of the walls from the soot. This contributes to a great extent to the comfort of cooking making it enjoyable therefore no more dodging for Selina. For the health benefits my back does not hurt because I sit next to the stove where the heat is easily regulated. The best part about of the stove is that we have contact information of the field officers in case of issues like damages the stove is repaired free of charge hence making it affordable and sustainable for me”.
The above photo shows a different household a woman cooking using traditional stove.
Look at the wall full of soot and the whole log that had to be used. The cracks on the edge clearly show the stove is not stable. The smoke emitted is also very wanting.
The above photo shows Mrs. Odero cooking on a carbon Zero Improved cook stove.
With a smile she says that ….‘‘No trace of smoke is evident, costs on wood is friendly due to low fuel consumption. Sitting next to the stove is easy since it is fixed .the wall is clean and I love cooking all over again. My sincere thanks to Carbon Zero for the great job they do in the rural communities in Kenya and beyond.”
Before the last four years moving most if not all households in Shimba Hills (Maungu, Kasighau, Golini and Muhaka) in Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties were using traditional three-stone fireplace for cooking. During that period women used to spend an average of 15 hours per week collecting fuel wood from local forests in the larger Shimba Hills area for home use. Poverty rate around Shimba Hills is above 50 percent and unemployment above 25 percent. This called for a simple and affordable efficient stove technology to reduce wood consumption and preserve unique vegetation and biodiversity within the region. And that’s how Carbon Zero came into the area and with the support of local leaders in consultation with local community members implemented an energy efficient cook stove project. The project therefore identified the efficient CZK cook stove as an appropriate technology for this region.
The CZK stove is 50 – 60 percent more efficient than the three-stone stove. The project has been lauded by local community members as a life changer and a great step in the right direction. Some of the impacts and benefits of the projects so far include;
A majority of households in Shimba Hills area have benefitted from better air and from having to spend less time for collecting firewood
Over 8,000 efficient cook stoves were installed in the area
Most women have been able to create time to engage in other economic activities raising their income and living standard of their families
A large percentage of beneficiaries say that indoor air quality has improved
Each stove avoids about 3,2 t CO2 and 2 tons wood per year
The project has so far saved massive tonnes of firewood
After four years since the stoves were distributed and optimally being used some started developing cracks and this led to the need to plan and repair and maintain them. The local community members having enjoyed the benefits of the stoves through Carbon Zero field staff send their requests which were positively received and a decision to repair all the damaged stoves made.
One of the stove beneficiaries was quoted saying “…I have been so happy for the last four years I have had my improved CZK stove. And now that it’s cracked I request for it to be fixed as my life seems to be hitting a wall. I can’t imagine using a three stone stove a gain. Before I got the CZK stove I had to go to the forest every day, which is a 15-20km walk with all the heavy wood on my head. Now I only have to go to the forest twice a week. Who wouldn’t want that? That’s the life every woman would want to live.’’
Early this month we took time and assessed all stoves in the region- over 8000 stoves and identified about 300 stoves that needed quick action, of which we repaired and ensured that the owners are able to continue enjoying their services.
This has not only left the stove beneficiaries happy but as ensured that the stoves will continuously be utilized fully for the domestic cooking roles. The benefits associated with the stove usage will continuously be enjoyed by the stove owners. New members in the community are thirsty for the day they will also own the Carbon Zero stove.
In the vast county of Taita-Taveta, a small village of Kajire in Sagalla location thrives. And here we meet up with women from Kajire women group who have gathered for their monthly merry go round. With smiles and excitement on their faces they welcome us to their sitting. We introduce ourselves and we begin our small discussion on their experience using the Carbon Zero improved cook stove and its bigger impact in fighting climate change. Caroline Kwida who is one of the oldest members stands out, at her age of 76, she still has a lot to offer to the mother nature. With her advice and suggestion she captures the minds of her fellow members as she tells them about the Carbon Zero stove and how it has improved her lifestyle.
You see, Caroline lives with her 85 year old husband and her cooking area is inside her two roomed house. As she explains how smoke used to affect her and her aged husband giving them all sorts of respiratory infections and itchiness that would not stop in their half blind eyes, she could not be more grateful for the benefits of the carbon zero stove. She used to spend a lot of time fetching firewood now she says it takes her less than thirty minutes to gather firewood for her daily meals. Before getting the improved stove she used to spare not less than three hours daily just searching for fuel wood. The women are clearly amazed at this wonder stove and we request Caroline if she could be kind enough to invite us to her kitchen home which she quickly obliges. Not more than five hundred meters from the meeting place we arrive at her well kept homestead. She welcomes us in and starts to prepare us some tea so that we can also experience how fast the CZK stove cooks.
We ask what she does with the extra time now that she spends time looking for firewood and he gladly shows us her flock of ducks, she now has enough time to spend with her husband taking care of him in his old age and also take care of her flock of ducks which is her main source of income. Our tea is done in no time and the group members are very impressed. As we finish we cannot help but to wonder how this aged couple would have survived without the highly efficient CZK stove. Caroline and her fellow members are forever grateful for the introduction by Co2 balance of a life saving project. With a smile on our faces and confidence high up we take our leave to the next household.
Approximately three billion people across the globe cook every day using open, three-stone fires or rudimentary traditional stoves. 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 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 i.e. Kenya.
In Kenya the case is not different, many households can relate with the simple and accessible mode of cooking. For decades, women have been using this cooking style not knowing the danger that they expose themselves to.
To curb these menace Carbon Zero has developed various improved cook stove models that suit the needs of different local communities with higher efficiencies that have been able to cut down on the amount of fuel used and reducing the time spent cooking allowing women some free time to engage in other income generating activities. Carbon Zero stoves have enabled women to cook with less than a half of the wood they used to use on wasteful three stone fires and in much less time. This saves lives because less wood means less smoke and thus less disease.
In the Western part of Kenya in Kisumu Carbon Zero has distributed over 10,000 improved cook stoves. Among the stove models distributed in the area was a brick rocket stove that locals have over time complimented for its good service. The rocket stove was the first cook stove to be built in Kisumu East region as part of the pilot project to be used in the rural settlement, where wood used for cooking had led to the immense deforestation of trees. The liner effect on the stove creates a highly efficient, largely smoke-free burn.
Mrs. Abigael Awour who is 65 years old lives in Rapogi village in Kisumu county were she has been married for the past 35 years and stays with her daughter and 2 grand children. She is a beneficiary of the rocket stove and we seek to get her opinion on the stove after using it for the last four or so years. With a smile she narrates that “Before receiving the brs cook stove, I had the traditional three stone open fire cook stove, which consumed a lot of fuel and I had to cut down most of the trees I planted so that I could sustain my family. I stay with my grand children who are very young which means I had to cook several meals a day and it was devastating because it was time consuming, very expensive, I also developed health complications, severe back pains and was on a lot of painkillers because I had to bend while cooking since the stove is practically on the ground and cannot be raised.”
She further adds that “After receiving the Rocket Stove I have seen a lot of changes especially in matters that deal with health because I no longer cough a lot due to the smoke reduction since I dry my wood completely and my back pain is no longer severe. The stove was done by professionals who considered all ages; I can now sit down and cook comfortably without straining, save money since I don’t need too much drugs for the back pain, now I have time to do farming and from the savings from firewood I buy maize seeds. Also the stoves retain heat so I only cook twice a day and leave the food warm on the stove for anyone to consume. Now it’s not necessary to cut down a tree to cook, all you need is a few small branches. Energy saving stoves are of great importance to our community, says Rhoda, one of the youth volunteers on the project. The stove saves a lot of energy and money because less firewood has to be collected or purchased. It also cooks faster so women have more time to engage in other income-generating activities and it is more hygienic than the traditional model. The stoves have greatly improved our living standards and for me the rocket stove form Carbon Zero is the best thing that ever happened to women in Rapogi.”
With new technology comes better ways of life. Human beings and energy are inseparable. How to sustainably utilize the various energy sources is still a 21st century challenge yet to be properly countered.
Among many rural households wood is the common energy source. It is utilized significantly for rural domestic cooking. In Kasighau division in Voi district this is not an exception. From the ancestors to the current occupants wood fuel as been greatly utilized for domestic cooking. Over the years there as been a rise of population in the division. This as been caused due to immigration in the area in for people to exploit the different precious stones found within the locality. The rise in population can also be attributed to natural increase in birth rate among the local residents. As a result of increase in population there as been over exploitation of wood fuel. All the house holds initially utilised the three stone traditional jiko. This stove is wood wasteful. During cooking a lot of wood was normally consumed with the stove. A lot of fire flames were normally lost since the jiko could not concentrate the flames to the cooking pot. This led to women spending a lot of time in cooking and collecting wood. Many are times when the children slept hungry because they could not wait for long hours while the dinner was being prepared. They could be out won by sleep during the cooking process with the three stone traditional jiko.
Their being a savior in every calamity the donation of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove (shown in the above picture) to the locals was really timely. The stoves were like an antidote that neutralized the wood crisis which had started to set pace in the area. Now there is all smiles in the face of the women in the locality. With the Carbon Zero stove the women now utilize less time for cooking since the carbon Zero stove concentrates the fire flames to the cooking pot and retains heat within it for a long period. The amount of wood also utilized by the stove is far less compared with the traditional three stove jiko. Since they require little wood cooking with the modern Carbon Zero stove the women in the locality utilize significantly less time for collecting it.
Not only is the stove user friendly but it is also environmental friendly. Over the years that the stove as been in utilization the locals have realized an increase in tree cover in the area. Apart from community sensitization on the need for adopting afforestation programmes in the locality this can also be highly attributed to adoption of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove for all day to day cooking. The area categorized as an ASAL area is now being endowed with a vast trees cover. Thanks to the conservation King, Carbon Zero stove.
Rains which were not common in the past now are occasionally experienced in Kasighau. This has greatly been influenced by an increase in tree cover in the locality making the environment a bit green something that was not there five years ago.
Compiled by Kenneth Mukuru, Moses Nyaga and Moses Maina
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.
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.’’
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.’’
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 aproud African woman. Now my kitchen is very clean and cooking has been made a wonderful experience.’’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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