Successful Issuance – Rwandan Cookstove Project

It is never late to share good news: we have issued over 30,000 credits from our Rwandan cookstove projects last December! It was the second issuance for the GS1267 which was the our first project to be implemented in Rwanda. The cookstoves in that specific VPA have been operational since early 2014 and are still in use in the stove beneficiaries households. Fortunately in the past three years there was no need for stove reparation, only the replacement of the wood grates at few households, confirming the durability of the in-house designed improved cookstove.

Below are few pictures about the improved cookstoves from the most recent trip to Rwanda. More pictures from the field will come soon, stay tuned!

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Training and Maintenance in Rwanda

As part of the continuous input mechanism, at Co2balance we closely monitor and regularly discuss the feedback of our stakeholders in the countries we operate. Following such discussions with our field team in Rwanda, we have come to the conclusion that currently there is an additional need for training on stove operations and replacement of certain parts of our stoves to ensure that they keep operating at the highest efficiency. Since the first stoves were introduced almost two years ago, stove maintenance and the training programme were encouraged by the Rwandan CDM DNA from REMA (Rwanda Environment Management Authority) as well. Co2balance has been working closely with the authorities to make sure that there is a high-level support of our cookstove projects in Bugasera District. We are proud that the necessary maintenance work was carried out by local manufacturers in the very same district where our stoves are placed and that the feedback about the training programmes have been very positive as well.

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Updates from the field – Kayonza

In partnership with our international and in-country project partners we have completed the rehabilitation of 45 boreholes in Kayonza District in Eastern Rwanda. The project is a result of a successful cooperation of multiple actors, this time including engineering students from the local university, too. Government officials have also welcomed the project especially because the district aims to improve its water supply coverage as part of Rwanda’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2). The total improved water source in Kayonza is at 72% compared to 82% of national average, but thanks to the borehole rehabilitations more than 22,000 people have now access to clean water. Adding to the 63 boreholes in Gatsibo, we have now 108 boreholes working thanks to our rehabilitation efforts in the Eastern Province. We are very pleased with this progress, please see some photos below about the repairs and the results.

Green Climate Fund and CDM

Early last month, South Korea’s Songdo hosted to the latest meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). CDKN’s Christina Elvers observed that compared to last year’s disappointing meeting in Zambia, GCF managed to make some major progress with the US signing the first tranche ($500m) of their commitment to the GCF. Riding on the momentum of the Paris Agreement, 2016 should be a very important year for the fund as it committed itself to take funding decisions worth $2.5 bn in 2016 for mitigation and adaptation projects. The main challenge is whether the fund delivers to those nations most in need.

GCF’s stated aim of providing direct access to developing countries, and thus bringing about a “paradigm shift” in terms of access to finance for vulnerable countries. However many developing countries would need support in preparing the proposals, as the President of Kiribati rightly pointed out in the Guardian early this year. At the moment, many of these small developing nations do not have means to access the fund directly but only though accredited private entities such as banks and multilateral institutions approved by GCF. Understandably simplifying the accreditation process is not on the table, as accountability to donors as well as to poor people is of prime importance, point out Harjeet Singh from Action Aid. It is therefore a positive development that GCF has finally approved a readiness support to Rwanda whose direct access entity, MINIRENA, received a $1.5m grant to prepare the proposals.

Many questions though whether it is the right decision to spend such large amount on preparation support and this is where carbon market frameworks come in the pictures. In 2012, the CDM High-Level Panel on the CDM Policy Dialogue proposed that GCF shall build on “CDM standards and methodologies in accounting for payments for verified results, so as to leverage the achievements, knowledge, and resources of the CDM”. While some part of their recommendations, such as purchase of CDM credits clearly cannot be considered due to the additionality criteria, it might worth to reflect on the lessons learned on this long-standing mechanism of emission reductions. Besides CDM, Gold Standard can also provide GCF with knowledge on how to set the standard which enables project developers to deliver high-impact, community focused emission reduction projects in developing countries. It is only by learning from these institutions’ past experience that GCF will be able to design a financial response that would truly lead to a paradigm shift.

World Water Day

One day after the International Day of Forest, the World Water Day also points out attention to an equally important natural resource. Basically in each language we can find a saying similar to the Rwandan proverb “water is life”, showing its universal importance all over the world. In the context of climate change, climate variability is manifested through, by and with water, as the World Water Council rightly emphasise.

Despite the fact that water has a key and evident role in any strategies which aim to tackle climate change, it did not figure in the official COP21 agenda in an adequate way. Just before the Paris events, the Guardian also noted that although COP discussions have been held for the past 20 years, the issue of fresh water has not been part of the official agenda. The absence of a comprehensive water strategy in the negotiations may have mayor impact on carbon emissions reduction targets, too. In his article Ger Bergkamp, the Executive Director of the International Water Association (IWA) explains that water companies are typically energy intensive, between 10% and 35% of operational costs are on energy consumption. The water sector contributes between 2-5% of global carbon emissions, as well as contributing towards other greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrogen oxides and methane, that have much larger multiplier effects on global warming. From our own experience in Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda we also know that boiling water for purification also emits significant amount of co2 which is preventable by providing clean water sources locally which are widely and freely available to people.

Luckily, Paris climate summit saw some attention turn to water launching several new initiatives under the umbrella of the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation, which has already secured $1bn for its operation. From our side, we are also in the planning phase of new projects in order to expand our operation in the field of borehole rehabilitations in several East-African countries. Stay tuned for more news and until then happy World Water Day!DSC_0639

Clinton’s support for cookstoves

Two weeks before Super Tuesday, when Bill Clinton made case for his wife’s candidacy, he praised the Clinton Foundation’s and particularly Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in promoting clean cookstoves in Sub-Saharan Africa, as one her many policy accomplishments. Indeed it was Hillary Clinton, back in 2010 as a Secretary of State who announced the launching of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a new public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), adding that “clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.” A year later she made an appearance in an interview with the Alliance’s other goodwill ambassador, actress Julia Roberts on Oprah Winsfrey Network to focus attention on the issue for a wider audience in the US. In her book, Hard Choices published in 2014, she gave the issue an even higher visibility and explained the reasons that made her to take action on this “deeply troubling and consequential challenge”. She pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, smoke from dirty stoves and fires kills almost 2 million people each year, most of them women and children. It kills more than twice as many people as malaria, she noted. As a mother herself, she called women worldwide to support hers and the Alliance’s efforts to reach 100 million households by 2020 to promote clean and healthy cooking environment. Although the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off, after this week’s Super Tuesday it worth to keep an eye on Mrs. Clinton who might take the support for the cause of clean cookstoves to an even higher level.

Project visit in Rwanda

As the Rwandan borehole and cookstove projects expanded exponentially in the past year, January was time to visit our local project partners and review the results of a fantastic progress our partnership achieved in 2015.

Together with the representatives of our Austrian partner organisation, Climate Corporation, we spent the last week travelling up-country to Gatsibo, Kayonza and Bugasera districts in order to interview the beneficiaries of our projects and to gain more insight in their everyday life. We also had the chance to meet with the mayors of Bugasera and Kayonza district and it was great to hear that our work is very much appreciated from the government’s side, too.  Working with multiple stakeholders and having continuous feedback of our work are key parts of the projects, but meeting our stakeholders regularly in person gives an additional value, a sort of closer attachment to these projects. Being invited to their homes, listening to their life stories and seeing smile on many faces thanks to the benefits cookstove and borehole projects can bring are memorable experiences that everyone of us in the team will remember.

All in all, the trip was very successful and I am especially grateful for Rwandas4Water and FAPDR for facilitating our visit. Instead of more words, I will let the photos speak of the wonderful country and people of Rwanda.