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!

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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.

brown hut island gazebo

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.

 

Eritrea Boreholes (10)

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.

A new beginning in Zimbabwe

Since Summer 2017, CO2balance has been exploring the possibility of starting a programme of borehole rehabilitation and maintenance in Zimbabwe. Almost a year after this research began, the idea is finally coming to fruition, with a partnership having been struck up with Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP). DOMCCP is an experienced local NGO with a strong track record of delivering poverty alleviation and HIV awareness projects in Manicaland, the easternmost province of Zimbabwe. As I write, the DOMCCP team are in the field in Manicaland making final preparations for the rehabilitation of 34 boreholes, an intervention that will bring safe water and alleviate the burden of waterborne disease for 2,500 households in the province.

I was recently privileged to be the first CO2balance staff member to travel to Zimbabwe to meet the DOMCCP team and visit the communities to be targeted through the programme. I was given a warm welcome by the DOMCCP team in Mutare city, where their head office is based, and then had the chance to spend a few days visiting rural districts of Manicaland including Mutare Rural, Nyanga and Chipinge. In all of these districts, the vast majority of boreholes which have been installed in recent decades are now not functioning, with Zimbabwe’s well-documented economic problems in recent years having contributed to the drying up of funding to maintain water infrastructure.

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Community members gather round a broken borehole in  Chipinge district

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A muddy pool used as a drinking water source in Chipinge district

Throughout these visits, I was struck not only by the warm and generous welcome of the community members that we visited, but also by the great need for the upcoming programme. For example, I met Ramwidzai Musimbi in Nyangani village, where the borehole has not been functional since it broke down over 4 years ago. In the absence of any alternative water source, Ramwidzai has been forced to walk 2 kilometres each way to collect water from the Savé River, meaning that she will typically spend 3 hours per day getting water for her household’s needs. The incidence of waterborne disease from the river is also very high, meaning in turn that Ramwidzai has to spend a further 3 hours per day collecting sufficient firewood in order to boil the water to make it safe. For people like Ramwidzai, the impact of having a safe water source just 200 metres from her front door cannot be emphasised enough. She will save at least 5 hours per day, be saved the backbreaking work of collecting water and firewood and have the opportunity to pursue business opportunities and spend time with her family.

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Ramwidzai Musimbi and her son with the fireplace and pot where they usually boil water to purify it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Henry Nyapokoto of DOMCCP with Tom by the Savé River

The other main event during my trip was the Local Stakeholder Consultation meeting, where key people who will be involved in the project from the government and communities were brought together to discuss the project and give their feedback. It was fascinating to be part of the meeting and to hear first hand about the impacts that stakeholders expect to see from the project. One of the most interesting contributions came from Tendani Sanikiwe, the facilitator of a club supporting people living with HIV (PLWHIV) in Manicaland. She spoke for several minutes about how members of the club are often excluded from discussions about the importance of safe water, but how access to safe water is crucial to PLWHIV due to their increased susceptibility to disease and need for safe water to ensure the efficacy of drugs. This was a great example of how the project will impact on communities beyond the impacts on climate change and health that we address through our current monitoring, and has the potential to bring great benefit to groups often marginalised.

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Participants pose for a photo after the LSC meeting

Overall, it was a privilege to be in Zimbabwe and to spend time with DOMCCP’s dedicated team. Thank you to them for the warm welcome and for the work in getting this exciting new programme off the ground. Zimbabwe is a country going through momentous change in its national politics, but whilst that happens the need for sustainable management of water sources at the community level is greater than ever, and we’re very excited to be at the forefront with DOMCCP. Watch this space for updates in the next few months!

Empowering Rural Women; Challenges/Opportunities

Women empowerment leads to higher economic growth and a better quality of life for women and men alike.  Despite progress, it is still the case today that rural women’s double burden of farming, search for water and unpaid domestic work prevents them from participating fully and fairly in community development and income-generating activities. Improving rural women’s access to technologies that save time and labour is essential to reducing their workloads. Transforming gender relations within the family is also crucial to empowering women and enabling them to make decisions about their lives which affects their community at large.

So many times gender-biased social norms, laws and practices can also limit women’s access to essential assets including natural resources and education as well as social assets such as participation in rural organizations and other decision-making bodies like borehole resource committees. As a result, their ability to reach their full potential and influence decision is seriously undermined.

As Uganda today joins the world to celebrate the International Women’s Day under the theme ‘Empowering Rural Women; Challenges/Opportunities’, we look to appreciate the roles played by women in provision and maintenance of clean safe water to the community.

The borehole projects have given women the opportunity to participate actively in water resource management and decision making by allowing them access to each Water Resource Committee which encourages fair representation for both genders. It is a requirement that the 10-man committee should consist of at least 4 to 5 women to fill the gender gap. For long, rural women had been over shadowed and their roles limited to the household yet the activities they do, given the opportunity is a great game changer.

We visited Ilera borehole in Apala village, Kole District which is under the Lango Safe Water project area to speak to the women on their roles in the Water Resource Committee and this is what they had to say.

‘My name is Nestina Okoko Bosco aged 46 and a water user of Ilera borehole. I have a family of 10 members and live 300 meters away from the borehole. I was elected as the Vice chairperson of this borehole and given the roles of managing the borehole meetings, ensuring that the borehole is functioning well and the records are properly kept. I also sit in for the chairman in his absence during the monthly meetings and help decide on rising matters concerning the borehole’.

‘My name is Flo Ogwang, aged 35 and a member of the Ilera borehole Water User Committee. I am in charge of preventing children from playing with and around the borehole, maintaining hygiene around the borehole and any other matters that concern the source. I am happy with my roles because I get to participate in the borehole activities’.

‘I am Brenda Akullo and a mobilizer of the borehole committee. I am in charge of mobilizing people to clean the borehole, dig the trenches and soak pit, mend the fences and inform the water users about meetings. I also participate in the meetings and make suggestions to help improve on our borehole’.

‘My name is Dorcus Apio, aged 45 and a mother of 7 children. I am the treasurer of Ilera borehole and my roles are collecting water user fees, keeping records of the money collected and participating in the decision making process of how and when the money will be spent. I am also in charge of releasing funds for borehole activities like minor repairs and accounting for the funds in the treasury. I am grateful for this position because it has made me gain respect in society and in my household’.

‘My role as the caretaker of Ilera borehole is to make sure that the borehole is well fenced, the surrounding is clean by sweeping daily, ensure no animals access the source, make sure the people clean their water collection containers before accessing the borehole and supervise that the soak pit is well constructed’, says 35 year old Margaret Connie who lives 100 meters from the borehole. ‘I also control the use of the water source by regulating the time people are allowed to fetch water by opening and closing the borehole‘.

However, the men also have roles they play in the committee which are not limited to;

  1. Search for Strong poles for fencing and do the whole job of fencing the Borehole
  2. Settle disputes/grievance that always arise as a result of congestion at source
  3. Work with women generate water user fee and borehole management
  4. Facilitate water resource meetings
  5. Support pump mechanics and co2balance team in repair and maintenance of the Borehole in case of breakdown.