Sustainable communities in Eritrea

Both the cook stove and water projects continue to move forward in Eritrea as last month we initiated our stakeholder consultation for a new community safe water programme in Zoba Anseba. The meeting, held in the local hall, was well attended by representatives from all the surrounding villages and the feedback received truly showed that the importance of water resources is highly valued. The project will identify communities that don’t currently have access to improved water sources because of broken boreholes and rehabilitate them to good working order.

Though the meeting was led by our project partners to give details of the project and take feedback, we were pleased to see active discussion between village members about how to best preserve the pumps once they have been fixed. The importance of borehole maintenance and awareness of water resource management were both raised and will be part of project over its lifetime.

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The success of the cook stove project in Zoba Anseba has continued and recently completed its second verification under Gold Standard. The project funded the training and construction of more than 3,600 ‘Adhanet’ stoves in the district. Hugely popular in the region, the stoves have shown reductions in wood use of as much as 70% and over; a huge improvement making a significant impact on rural families.

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By embedding training on stove construction and borehole maintenance in to the programme, it strengthens the sustainability of the projects and furthers the sustainable livelihoods and sustainable communities across Eritrea.

 

Tom’s First Visit to Uganda – Our Eastern & Northern Trip

Since the beginning of our Uganda projects in 2013, co2balance with the help of its partner Organisation WAACHA in Kaliro District and Project Officers in the Lango sub-region have continuously worked with the communities right from rehabilitating hand-pumped boreholes to maintaining them annually and doing reactive repairs when need arises. This has been done hand in hand with the community who provide unskilled labor when required. They also use their borehole user fees to contribute towards minor repairs at the boreholes which has given them a sense of ownership of these projects.

On a recent visit to the projects, I was joined by our Carbon Projects Officer Tom Urry who was visiting Uganda for the very first time and also meeting the communities that are beneficiaries to the project. We visited some boreholes and also had a chance to engage with the community and get their feedback on the project.

During our visit in Kaliro, we had the privilege to be joined by a team from Climate Neutral Group who had a chance to meet the borehole users. committee and also interact with the users of Mwanga and Masuna boreholes.

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Tom (extreme left) & the team from Climate Neutral Group

Hightlights from our trip

Borehole visits

We visited a number of boreholes, met their water user committee members and had some community engagement sessions. From our interaction, we learnt that the communities were putting into practice all that they had learnt from the last Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training they received. They said that that much as they have learnt basic hygiene practices like washing hands after toilet use and before preparing and eating food, getting soap has continued to be a big challenge. Some afford it occasionally while for others, it doesn’t lead as a basic priority hence they do without it.

WASH

To address the challenge of difficulty in getting soap, as part of a WASH campaign, our partners WAACHA in Kaliro District decided to start training women groups attached to the boreholes in local soap making using plant materials and herbs. Apart from using this at home, they can also sell the soap and earn an extra income to meet other basic needs in their households.

With the training received from co2balance on basic hygiene in homes, the borehole users with the help of Village Health trainers have been able to improve on their sanitation facilities and also construct simple tippy taps near their toilets. This is to help cultivate the culture of washing hands after using the toilet.

Community engagement

In a bid to get the community involved in the projects, topping to the monthly monitoring visits, we were able to meet the communities, discuss their concerns and rising challenges and get their feedback on the project.

We were able to visit some of the old water sources that the borehole users entirely depended on before the boreholes were rehabilitated. This would prompt them to cut down more trees in order to get wood fuel for boiling their water but with this continued practice, wood became more scarce and expensive. This left some of them with no option but to take unsafe water hence getting waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, cholera among others.

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one of the unsafe water source used by the communities before the rehabs

With the government being one of our support systems in implementing these boreholes projects, we have continued to engage with them for the success of the project. Through the District Water officers and other local government staff, we are able to identify the boreholes to rehabilitate, monitor them, get household information among others.

We had the chance of paying a courtesy call to the sub-county offices at Omoro in Alebtong district which is home to many of our boreholes, with the latest addition being a solar pumped borehole rehabilitated recently to expand on the Lango Safe Water project.

On overall, the Kaliro and Lango sub-region borehole users are very happy with the projects and this is shown by their active involvement and prompt implementation of whatever recommendations they receive from the project officers’ monthly visits.

Rehabilitation of Omoro Sub-county Solar Powered Water Pump Scheme

In a continued drive to expand access to water in Northern Uganda, CO2balance recently repaired a solar powered borehole in Omoro sub-county that had been broken down for over 10 years. This borehole broke down at the peak of the insurgency caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Northern Uganda. This solar pump was estimated to be serving over 2,500 people at the time of its breakdown which caused a major water crisis in the sub-region.

A solar-powered pump runs on electricity generated by photo-voltaic panels or the radiated thermal energy available from collected sunlight as opposed to grid electricity or diesel-run water pumps. A submersible pump is used and this pushes water to the surface by converting rotary energy into kinetic energy then into pressure. Solar pumps are an energy efficient, environmentally friendly way to pump water for various uses from domestic consumption to supporting agriculture activities.

The community at Omoro sub-county have been heavily relying on unsafe water sources as a result of the high population putting great pressure on a limited supply of boreholes which have not been well maintained and have therefore broken down. They further suffered a big water crisis early this year as a result of drought in the region. A growing population, including families moving in from neighboring districts, has heightened the pressure on water resources in the area.

With this new safe water source, access to clean safe water has been increased and many households will benefit from it. The solar powered pump scheme has storage pump tanks of up to 32,000 litres of water, feeding 5 distribution points which will ensure constant supply of water to the people of Omoro. The pioneering technology will ensure that water from a single borehole reaches 5 distribution points throughout Omoro, limiting the distance that users have to travel to access safe water.

This is the first time that we at CO2balance have incorporated a solar borehole into our project activities, having always previously focused on hand-powered boreholes. We are very excited at the potential of introducing a technology that, using the power of the sun, will extend clean, safe water to 5 times as many individuals as would be possible with a hand pump. Watch this space for updates on this project and we hope to repair many more solar boreholes in years to come!

Part of the community at Omoro

Easter celebrations at Abongodyang village – the gift of a new borehole

For the people of Abongodyang village, this Easter season was special and extra ordinary as it came with it the best ‘Easter Egg’ in form of a newly drilled borehole by co2balance – a gift of clean safe water.

The village of Abongodyang which has a population of about 320 people who until the drilling of the borehole had been using unsafe water sources like open wells, ponds, swamps, among others were very excited about their new water source which is not only clean and safe but has a good yield and is close to their homes.

After doing a thorough hydro-geological survey, a suitable site was picked to ensure the borehole had a high sustainable yield and good water quality. This was followed by site clearance which the community actively participated to strengthen their community engagement and partnership with co2balance in the continuous maintenance of this borehole after drilling.

The community has now pledged to look after the borehole and ensure that it is always clean and safe from any contamination that may be harmful to their health. They have also agreed to contribute the water user fees that that was set as a government policy to ensure that the communities are able to maintain the source using the money collected from all households.

Borehole in use

Drilling of this borehole has not only increased the safe water coverage in Otuke district but also ensured that so many waterborne diseases are avoided by consuming unsafe water. This also means that the wood fuel that goes into purifying this water significantly drops.

They say…….. ‘THANK YOU’

International Women’s Day Gift to Women of Corner Apii and Apala Telela Borehole

As the world commemorates the International Women’s Day, the women of Corner Apii and Telela Apala villages in Kole district, Northern Uganda surely have a reason to celebrate this day. Corner Apii borehole was drilled by the government and shortly broke down leaving the community of over 800 people with no option but to turn to an open spring that they shared with animals. This was constantly contaminated by animal waste and caused waterborne diseases to them like typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea among others.

The women of Corner Apii village suffered most due to the breakdown of this borehole. They had to use unsafe sources of water as the alternative borehole was far and inaccessible. This made them less productive as they had to not only collect water but also look for firewood to purify the water for drinking.

After an 8 months breakdown, CO2balance has helped rehabilitate this borehole today and given hope for clean safe water to the Corner Apii and Apala Telela community once more.

‘I had a small business that generated some extra income for my family but I closed it because I did not have enough time to manage it. I had to farm in the morning and later do house chores before going in search of water and firewood. This left me tired and with no time to tend to my shop…..’ narrates 67 year old Beatrice Alyango who lives half a kilometer from the newly repaired borehole.

With the repair of the borehole, she hopes to re-open her shop as she will now have enough time to tend to it.

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Beatrice Alyango

45 year old Santa Ocen, married with 10 Children who lives half a kilometer from the borehole celebrates the new water source. When the borehole broke down, she constantly worried about her little girls traveling for long distances unaccompanied in search of water and firewood. The same water collected was not clean and they ended up sick and missing school. She is confident that cases of diseases will now be a thing of the past as she totally trusts borehole water.

Judith Okello aged 35, a mother to 4 children is also happy that this borehole was repaired because it is going to sort out the issue of domestic violence in homes.

‘Husbands would always beat up their wives if they delayed to return home from fetching water. They would accuse their wives of meeting up with other men while fetching water from these far off wells hence the delay. The women’s pleas fell on deaf ears and this trend would continue because the women had to collect water everyday….’ narrates Judith Okello.

Corner Apii is just one out of the 20 newly rehabilitated boreholes in 2017. Another borehole rehabilitated today (pictured below) is Apala Telela and the women say ‘Thank you’.

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Women of Apala Telela borehole

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) Sensitization in Kaliro

WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and these three cores are interdependent on the presence of the other. For example, without toilets, water sources become contaminated as a result of open defecation and poor waste disposal; without clean water, basic hygiene practices like hand washing are not possible. Drinking water sources are increasingly under threat from contamination, which impacts not only on the health of people, but also on the economic, environmental and social development of communities.

Threats to drinking water quality include unsafe handling and storage at the household level: water drawn from safe sources like boreholes may be contaminated by the time it reaches its storage point in households if poorly handled. In most rural areas, drinking water is stored in clay pots which are vulnerable to contamination if poorly handled.

Co2balance with its partner NGO WAACHA in Kaliro recently carried out a WASH sensitization to impart these three cores to the communities that are using the boreholes rehabilitated and maintained by it. They encouraged them on the need to have sanitary facilities like toilets and also influence behavioral change towards hygiene practices. Good hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap after using the toilet is essential to prevent disease and promote health.

The water resource committee members on behalf of the communities embraced the exercise and promised to elect voluntary health trainers who will move door to door training the households. They also pledged to encouraged the communities without toilets to build them at a safe distance from water sources and their homes and  install tippy taps with soap for hand washing after using the toilet. This will go a long way in promoting good health and the principles of WASH.

RIP Oscar Carlsson, designer of the Sholapur hand pump

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