In 2017, CO2balance has been building on its successful carbon offset projects in Rwanda by conducting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project. Building on CO2balance’s work to provide communities with clean water in Gatsibo district, the CSR project has ensured that 4 primary schools have the facilities to make the best possible use of their water supply. This has involved the provision of handwashing facilities to schools where previously none existed, as well as rehabilitation of school toilet facilities to ensure that they are hygienic, lockable and private.
A handwashing point in use at Kiramuruzi Primary School
This work has been complemented by building the capacity of schools to promote hygiene and sanitation. This began in early 2017, with the training by Rwandans 4 Water of teachers and groups of pupils on approaches to hygiene and sanitation. This led to the creation of WASH clubs in all 4 schools, which now meet on a weekly basis during term time and give presentations in school assemblies on the importance of handwashing and personal hygiene.
Ruth Muhorakeye, who is Deputy Head Teacher at Gorora Primary School which has been participating in the project, has given very positive feedback on the impact of these WASH activities. She notes that prior to the project, the remoteness of the school meant that having access to WASH information and facilities was a major challenge, but that she has seen major changes in recent months: “Making the toilet facilities private and enclosed was very important for the dignity of the pupils here, especially for the girls who suffered great shame at having nowhere to privately relieve themselves. We are very happy that pupils don’t have to worry about this anymore. We now see pupils washing their hands every time they use the latrine, and following the WASH training, teachers report that children are now engaging much more enthusiastically in keeping the classrooms and school clean.”
The CSR project’s other main activity has been the installation at each school of solar panels for lighting and charging points. This has been a major development, bringing electricity and light to the schools for the first time, as they are all located in areas which are not year linked to the national grid. This has been a tipping point, opening up major new opportunities for the schools. For example, Ntete Primary School had previously been provided with a laptop but had no way in which to charge it. However, the installation of a solar charging point has allowed this to be kept charged up, enabling teachers to download recent curriculum materials via mobile internet and present to pupils on subject matter to which they had previously had no access.
A classroom lit up by a solar-powered light
Another impact reported by all primary schools has been that having light in classrooms for the first time has enabled them to keep the doors open in the evening, allowing pupils to study after hours. This is a major development, as the majority of pupils did not previously have lights in their homes, making it very difficult to complete homework. The benefits of this have been most keenly felt by pupils in class P6, the top year of primary school, who have been able to study in the evenings in preparation for their final exams, which are essential for gaining entry to secondary school.
The project has now passed its mid-point and will run until April 2018, when Rwandans 4 Water will hand over the continuation of the activities to the headteachers of the schools involved. Watch this space for more updates in the coming months!
2017 has been a historic year so far in the Toshiba CarbonZero scheme, which is based on a partnership between CO2balance and Toshiba TEC going back to 2009. Through this scheme, Toshiba TEC offsets the emissions caused by producing and distributing Multi-Function Printers. It does so by purchasing credits generated through CO2balance’s projects to promote fuel-efficient cookstoves in Kenya and to provide clean, safe drinking water to rural communities in Uganda. As we reported a few months ago, as of January 2017 the scheme is now officially supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Whilst measurable indicators have been submitted to the UN to demonstrate quantitatively how the scheme is advancing the SDGs, the progress at a human level has been best demonstrated by the case studies that have been published in each month of 2017. Two case studies have been released through the Toshiba website each month of the year so far. These real life stories show the profound human impacts of the scheme, with tangible improvements on the lives of individuals that go well beyond reducing CO2 emissions.
A particular highlight is the story of Christina Mashala in Kenya, who describes how receiving a fuel-efficient stove has greatly improved her family’s health by reducing their smoke inhalation. This prevents them from suffering constant respiratory illnesses and saves them large amounts of money that they previously spent on medicines. This story shows the contribution the Toshiba CarbonZero scheme has made towards achieving SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing).
Elsewhere, the story of Alex Ongora’s family in Uganda shows how access to safe water from the borehole in their community has saved them countless hours spent travelling far to collect water and saved them large amounts of money that they used to spend on medicine to treat diarrhoea. With the time and money saved, the family is now operating a successful business of growing and selling hot chillies, demonstrating the strides that have been taken in the scheme towards SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
These stories provide an inspirational insight into the many co-benefits of this pioneering scheme. You can see the full range of stories through the Toshiba website, and we’ll look forward to bringing you more stories in October, November and December – watch this space!
The CO2balance team was saddened to learn recently of the passing of Oscar Carlsson, inventor of the Sholapur hand pump, who died in late January at the age of 89. Oscar designed the hand pump whilst managing the Sholapur Well Service in India in the 1970s.
Whilst Sholapur may not be a household name, the influence of the design on rural water access throughout the developing world has been astronomical. The India Mark II, the most widely used water hand pump in the world, is based on the Sholapur design. Over 6 million India Mark IIs are in operation in India and countless thousands more are in operation globally, guaranteeing safe water access to communities living in some of the most remote and challenging locations on the planet.
Oscar’s innovations included designing ball valves for the pump cylinder and a sand trap in the rising main to extend the life of the cup washers, amongst several innovations to improve the durability and longevity of the pumps. CO2balance is one of the many organisations whose work benefits from Oscar’s efforts, with the India Mark II being one of the most widely used pump models used in our borehole projects.
Oscar is remembered by his friend Ruper Talbot as “a rare being, blessed with out-of-the-box imagination and clever engineering skills that he translated into practical solutions to every day technical and social problems”. All of us at CO2balance extend our thoughts to Oscar’s family and friends and hope that many others will be inspired by him to bring practical and ingenious innovations to support livelihoods and protect the environment.
Featured image: an India Mark II hand pump repaired and maintained by CO2balance in Eritrea
Since 2009, Toshiba TEC, a global leader in manufacturing printers and other electronic devices, has been partnering with CO2balance to deliver the Carbon Zero Scheme. Through this scheme, the company offsets the CO2 emissions caused by its production and distribution of Multi-Function Printers by supporting rural communities in Kenya to access fuel-efficient cookstoves and repairing boreholes in Uganda to ensure that communities can access safe water. The scheme has been remarkably successful, with over 430,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions prevented by the end of 2015, and we’re delighted to announce that in its current cycle, the scheme is now officially supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs were agreed in 2015 and set out an ambitious and expansive agenda to tackle the great challenges facing our planet and its people, plants and animals. Throughout 2017, case studies of people in Kenya and Uganda that are taking part in the scheme’s projects will be published on the Toshiba website, demonstrating the positive impacts for individuals in some of the poorest communities in the world. These case studies will also show how changes to the livelihoods individuals are a crucial part of the achievement of the SDGs. Several different SDGs are supported by the scheme, including:
SDG 1 (No Poverty): By supporting communities with fuel-efficient stoves or with a pure water supply that is drinkable straight from the source and does not require boiling to make it safe, the need for households to spend hours every day collecting firewood is reduced. This helps free up time for farmers like Vincent Ogwong, who can now focus on developing businesses to increase household income to invest in food and in educating his children.
SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing): Fuel-efficient stoves reduce the smoke inhalation suffered by families throughout sub-Saharan Africa by cooking on open fires in the home, thereby reducing exposure to respiratory problems.
SDG 13 (Climate Action): Introducing fuel-efficient stoves and removing the need to boil water to make it safe greatly reduces the volume of firewood burned by households, thereby reducing the resulting CO2 emissions. It is estimated that 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be prevented by the project activities in the current project cycle (April 2016-March 2018). The reduced dependence on firewood will also remove a cause of deforestation in the communities involved, ensuring that trees are preserved to sequester CO2.
We’re really excited to be involved in this scheme and to be making such a tangible contribution to these goals which are set to have such a positive impact in the coming years. You can check out the profile and details of the Toshiba Carbon Zero Scheme on the SDGs website and of course follow the CO2balance blog for regular updates!
Let me introduce myself, I’m Tom and I have just joined the co2balance team as Carbon Projects Officer. I am passionate about international development and environmental issues and I’m delighted to have joined a company doing such outstanding work to combat climate change and improve livelihoods in rural communities throughout Africa and beyond.
I have an MSc in International Development from Bristol University and have spent the last 2 years working in sub-Saharan Africa, firstly with Temwa in Malawi and then with Planting Promise in Sierra Leone. I worked on delivering a range of community-based projects in areas including agriculture-forestry, education and small business development. These experiences helped me to understand the challenges faced by rural communities throughout Africa, but also the potential of small projects to support adaptations that benefit livelihoods.
It’s really exciting to be working for co2balance and to be working on projects having a positive impact for communities whilst delivering measurable emission reductions. The fact that so much is achieved by a small team shows the dedication and expertise of co2balance’s staff. I’m looking forward to learning from the team and contributing to advancing the company’s work in the coming months and years.
Outside of work, I’m a massive football fan and enjoy cooking, cycling and travel. I hope to be writing on the blog again soon with updates about co2balance’s projects, watch this space! Below is a picture of me on the Chombe plateau above Lake Malawi back in 2014.