A visit with clients to the Pearl of Africa – Lango sub-region, Uganda

In October I travelled to Uganda to meet with the CO2balance Uganda team, partner NGOs and local officials.

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Welcoming assembly

The trip included visiting our borehole projects in Kaliro and Lango. It was great to meet our committed and knowledgeable team and partners, who do a wonderful job in implementing the projects. Each borehole is managed by a Water Resource Committee, made up of local borehole users who ensure the borehole is kept clean and functioning. The Committees are trained to be “gender sensitive” and each have a gender balance of 50/50.

The main purpose of the trip was to host clients who were visiting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project that they had funded in addition to offsetting their CO2 emissions through the Lango Safe Water Project. The CSR project worked in 2 primary schools: rehabilitating rainwater harvesting systems in both, and fixing a borehole in one and building a new pit latrine in the other.

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The new pit latrine at one primary school makes people jump for joy!

The impact of this project was fantastic. The new pit latrine gave girls a safe, hygienic and private place to use the toilet and change. This is particularly important for those in their monthly menstrual cycle. The Head Teacher said that it has reduced absenteeism and has a huge positive impact on education. The rehabilitated borehole on the school grounds gives pupils a source of clean water, without which they had to walk for many kilometres to fetch water. Again, this impacts upon education as pupils no longer tire themselves by walk to and carrying heavy loads of water. The rainwater harvesting systems capture rainwater and store it in the 16,000 litres tanks. This can be used for washing hands, cooking, cleaning and drinking.

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Pupils now have a water source on the school grounds

It was wonderful to see the impacts these projects are having on the pupils and their communities. The visit gave the clients the opportunity to see their work first-hand and meet the people who are benefiting from the projects. Because of the stories, songs, dances and messages of thanks they received, as well as observing the projects in action, they were able to take these stories back to their company, family and friends to spread the message of sustainability. As a gesture of thanks from the schools, they received traditional water containers, brushes, 3 chickens, 2 doves and a sheep.

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Updates from Rwanda

In September I had the chance to travel to Rwanda to spend time with our partners and visit the communities benefitting from our projects. Having made a brief previous visit to Rwanda, this was a great opportunity to spend more quality time with the team at FAPDR, who implement the improved cookstove projects, and Rwandans4Water who are responsible for the borehole maintenance programme.

A key aim of the trip was to follow up on the CSR project that concluded earlier this year in Gatsibo district. CO2balance conducts bespoke CSR projects throughout our target countries, whereby investors in carbon credits fund supplementary projects that benefit the livelihoods of communities beyond the core carbon offset projects. The recently

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Pupils at Gorora Primary School wash their hands at the tippy tap

concluded project in Rwanda involved installing solar lighting and charging systems in 4 primary schools which had previously had no electricity access at all. The schools were also equipped with handwashing stations and had their toilet facilities rehabilitated, and a comprehensive programme of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training was conducted.

During my time in Rwanda, I had the chance to visit Kiramuruzi and Gorora Primary Schools and to chat to teachers and pupils about the lasting impacts of the CSR project. All schools have chosen to ensure ongoing WASH awareness by creating WASH clubs of particularly engaged pupils who are responsible for sharing messages about sanitation and hygiene with their peers and the wider community. Espérance Murereyimana is the teacher responsible for convening the WASH club at Kiramuruzi and she described the strong engagement in the WASH club, which currently has 50 members. The club meets every Friday to discuss WASH issues and to practice singing awareness raising songs which are then shared with the whole school during assembly. Espérance highlighted the greatly improved WASH practices noted throughout the school, with all pupils now washing their hands several times throughout the day and passing on information to their families and neighbours.

Staff in both schools also praised the impact of the solar charging and lighting systems. In both schools visited, the systems have been working without fault up to the present time, almost one year and a half after their installation. As well as enabling a laptop to be used to fulfil school administration tasks, the key impact has been the introduction of lighting in several classrooms. In communities where there is no electricity and children have no light at home by which to do homework, having light at school after sunset at 6pm has an immense impact. Staff at both schools reported that high numbers of pupils remain after school to study on most weekdays, and that this was particularly useful at the end of the last academic for pupils in Primary 6 who were preparing for their final exams.

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‘End User Training’ on optimum usage of the fuel-efficient stoves in Bugesera district

Other than following up on the CSR projects, I also had the opportunity to visit users of the improved cookstoves in Bugesera district and to see the boreholes in action in Kayonza and Gatsibo districts. The ongoing high levels of use of these technologies and good condition of the project infrastructure are a credit to FAPDR and Rwandans4Water for the strong engagement and maintenance activities that they continue to implement on a monthly basis.

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Meeting with the borehole committee and wider community in Kinunza village, Gatsibo district

The visit was also tinged with sadness as it was the first CO2balance visit to Rwanda since the death of Jean-Baptiste Nsabimana, the founder and president of FAPDR, who passed away in March 2018. The past few months have been a very difficult period for FAPDR, particularly for Patrice Ndatimana, the FAPDR Projects Coordinator who had worked closely with Jean-Baptiste for many years. Jean-Baptiste is greatly missed on a personal level and we’re immensely grateful to him for his work on the projects over many years. Patrice has worked tirelessly to keep the projects working over these last difficult months. We’re delighted to have recently welcomed on board Clarisse Ingabire, who joined FAPDR in August to support Patrice and who is already doing a great job of coordinating awareness campaigns and monitoring in the cookstove projects. It was also a pleasure during my visit to meet Marthe Mukamuramutsa, Jean-Baptiste’s wife who took over as FAPDR president after his passing and who continues to take a keen interest in the organisation’s work.

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Clarisse, Marthe, Tom and Patrice at the FAPDR office in Kigali

Many thanks to FAPDR, Rwandans4Water and the many community members that we met during my trip. Watch this space for more Rwanda updates in the coming months!

Sawadee Krap to the UNFCCC in Bangkok

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently meeting in Bangkok to draft a rulebook for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which will form the basis of the COP24 Summit in Katowice, Poland in December.  The objective of the rulebook is to provide a streamlined draft which will assist discussions at the Katowice Summit where signatory states will agree the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Sectary of UN Climate Change, reported of “uneven progress” between the 195 Parties which “underlines the urgent need for continuing work”. The draft rulebook is critical for COP24 to “achieve balance across all issues” and allow for the Parties to “function together in an inter-connected manner”.

A delicate balance must be struck which brings all Parties together and recognises the differing economic, social, political and environmental circumstances between countries. Many complex issues are being discussed including country-specific climate pledges, known as nationally defined contributions (NDCs). NDCs are key to the Paris Agreement. Parties are discussing whether a “two-tier” system is appropriate, which would mean different rules for developed and developing states.

While the complex talks progress in Bangkok, one might ask “what can I do to tackle climate change?”. The UNFCCC encourages all levels of society to take climate action, including at a personal level. Relying solely on policy will not be enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. The UN recommends: measuring, reducing, and compensating emissions.

When it comes to compensating emissions, CO2balance offers certified Gold Standard emission reductions. All of our projects, from boreholes to efficient cookstoves, reduce CO2 emissions by displacing the need to burn firewood as a fuel source. The benefits go beyond simply reducing emissions and have positive impacts towards the Sustainable Development Goals, such as improving gender equality, improving health and well-being and providing clean water. Read our case studies page to find out how!

Expansion in the Lango Sub-region – more clean safe water

When CO2balance moved to Uganda 5 years ago with its borehole rehabilitation project, the rural areas of Northern Uganda had suffered many years of civil unrest by rebel activities that left its water infrastructure wanting. The indigenous people typically depended on wood fuel, using inefficient three stone open fires to purify their drinking and cooking water leading to emissions from the combustion of wood.

It started with the rehabilitation and maintenance of 41 boreholes in the Lango sub-region in the districts of Otuke, Alebtong, Dokolo and Kole. Since then it has moved to expand and develop its rehabilitation project, fixing and maintaining up to 141 boreholes which are currently functional and serving over 80,000 people up from 20,000 at the start of the project in 2013. This has been made possible because CO2balance has ensured that there is participation at all levels by working extensively with the communities and other local stakeholders who have been a great support system.

Here are some photos from the recent borehole rehabilitation done in May

Much as the expansions have contributed to widespread clean safe water coverage, there are still many cases of dependence on unsafe water sources like open wells, unprotected springs and even ponds like seen in the pictures below.

 

 

Issuances in Eritrea!

In the last month, borehole projects in the country of Eritrea have credited over 133,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent saved! The equivalent in weight is 88 fully grown Blue Wales, the largest mammal on Earth, or 1683 heavily laden Boeing 737’s!

The projects in the areas of Zoba Maekel and Zoba Debub, Eritrea generate emissions reductions by displacing the need to boil water for purification. This is the most common method people use to purify contaminated water from unsafe sources such as open wells, rivers and streams. The main cost people incur to boil water is time, wood is freely collected from surrounding forests and farm fields causing local deforestation.

Within the household traditional 3-stone stoves, used for boiling water, pollute the air with smoke which contributes to a range of illnesses and acute health impacts. Traditionally, women are the main cooks who tend to these stoves multiple times a day. They are also the primary child carers meaning the adverse effects of smoke disproportionately fall on women and children.

Studies have linked early childhood acute lower-respiratory infections such as asthma and pneumonia to child exposure to smoke. For adults, risks of lung cancer, cataracts, bronchitis and more have been associated with prolonged smoke exposure.

With clean water, project participants have increased health benefits from a reduction in stomach and smoke related illnesses. They spend less time collecting water and boiling is eradicated. There is less deforestation in the local area and furthermore, the projects contribute towards the following SDG’s:

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To date, these projects combined have produced over 436,994,145 litres of clean water in Eritrea. If you wish to contribute towards sustainable development in Eritrea, help fight climate change and offset your personal or company carbon footprint, please Contact Us or email enquiries@co2balance.com to hear more about the positive impacts of our projects!

 

Where are you going on your summer holidays?

The world-wide tourism industry is booming and worth over $7 trillion. It employs 10% of workers and brings in massive revenue for areas which may have little else. The industry is growing by 4% each year, driven by new wealth in emerging economies such as China, Brazil and Mexico.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A study in Nature Climate Change found that tourism is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, much more than the 2.5-3% previously estimated. It found that the carbon footprint increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO2e between 2009 and 2013. The most significant contributor is transport, followed by shopping and food. As with most emissions, high-income countries are responsible for the majority of this footprint. Some small island nations, such as the Maldives and the Seychelles, generate a significant proportion of income through tourism, yet are among the most at risk from sea level rise and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The strong annual growth of tourism has surpassed efforts of the industry to decarbonise, but the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is upbeat about the momentum seen in “a growing number of hotels, airports and tour operators that have all become carbon neutral”. A great example of this is Cochin Airport in Kerala, India, the first ever fully solar powered airport.

photography of airplane during sunrise

Photo by Anugrah Lohiya on Pexels.com

Tourism also does possess a great power to benefit some aspects of the environment and help achieve other UN Global Goals. For example, the Gorilla trekking licences in Rwanda and Uganda which fund the conservation of mountain gorillas, and the alternative livelihoods provided to small hill-tribe communities in Thailand which drives economic develop in remote areas. However, eco-tourism still has a significant carbon footprint due to the flights involved.

So, what are the solutions?

One way to mitigate the carbon footprint from your summer holiday is to offset the emissions through CO2balance’s Gold Standard carbon credits. As well as reducing CO2 emissions by reducing or removing the combustion of firewood and charcoal, CO2balance’s projects positively impact the target communities and help achieve the UN Global Goals by providing safe water, improving health by reducing indoor air pollution and creating gender equality by reducing the time required to collect firewood. Use our Flight Calculator to see the CO2 footprint from your flight and take a look at our Projects page or Contact Us to see how you can reduce your carbon footprint, help fight climate change and make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Climate change, water security, and development

Much of the discussion and headlines around climate change focuses on rising global temperature and, though this is the driving factor, it is a longer-term and more abstract trend. One of the more noticeable impacts that has been and will continue to be seen is rainfall; how much will fall, where, and when.

As temperatures rise, evaporation will increase, and the surface drying will increase the intensity and duration of droughts. The warmer air will be able to hold more water, and rainfall will increase by around 7% for every 1°C warming, leading to more intense rainfall events when they do occur. Speaking with staff and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, this is already being seen and the once predictable rainfall patterns can no longer be relied upon. Periods of prolonged drought can be followed by unprecedented rainfall causing landslides and structural damage as was seen in Uganda and Kenya in 2016.

According to a study in Nature, changing land use and controls over water sources, coupled with the impact from climate change, have already altered the water supply and availability over the past 15 years. Water as a resource is shared globally and the abstraction and damming of rivers before they cross geographic boundaries has been the cause of international tensions which may be a significant cause of conflict in the 21st Century.

Rainfall is vital for most of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority engage in subsistence agriculture for their livelihood and obtain freshwater for domestic purposes from surface water or groundwater aquifers, recharged by rainfall and naturally purified as the water percolates through the ground.

 

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Children collecting water from a nearby handpump in Eritrea

 

Having a close, reliable, affordable, and safe water source is invaluable to the well-being of a family or a community and improving access to groundwater is thought to have positive impacts on some of the key pillars of human development including health, education, livelihoods, and food security. Borehole hand pumps are a critical part of the water infrastructure in rural communities and will be ever more so with uncertain rainfall patterns but they often suffer from a lack of financial and technical support. CO2balance will continue to work together with partners to maintain this infrastructure and unlock the potential that safe groundwater brings.