Impacting Lives in Maungu

In the Coastal region of Kenya in Shimba hills Carbon zero has distributed over 10,000 energy efficient cook stoves. The stove beneficiaries highly appreciate the many social, health and economic impact that the stoves have had in their lives. The stoves have also led to the protection of the Shimba hills forest that was under threat before due to anthropogenic activities i.e. cutting down trees for firewood. Majority of the stove users are happy with the stoves performance some even calling it a hero. This has been evidenced through the many success stories that have been shared by the stove owners.

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In Maungu one of the project areas under the larger Shimba region we meet Patricia Mwikali who is also a social worker in this community. Aged fifty eight, she shares her home with her husband, daughter in-law and grandson. This has been her sixth year since she benefited from the stove. She says she uses the carbon zero stove at least three times a day and this has brought great improvement to her family’s health and finance. Her daughter in-law doesn’t have to walk for long distances in search of firewood as a few branches of trees pruned and dried from the shamba meet the family’s daily fuel consumption needs thanks to the low fuel consumption CZK stove. Attending women group meetings has never been easier where she mingles with other women who have the same efficient cook stove story to share. She adds that she rears poultry from which she gets her daily income from. At first getting capital to start her project seemed out of reach but as soon as she got the stove, she started saving the money which she used to spend on paraffin and charcoal; and up till now she owns at least three hundred broiler chicken.

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The Carbon Zero stoves beneficiaries within Shimba hills are so happy with fuel use reduction giving them ample time do to engage in other economic activities i.e. Domestic farming which generates surplus income. They are also enjoying health improvements especially the big percentage reduction of smoke related infections. It’s a fact that people need forests and that’s where all human beings come in. When you acquire and use an energy efficient cook stove you save a lot on wood fuel which transforms into saving of forests thus helping create a healthier, more prosperous, more productive planet, for you and for everyone

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Sadly; Women are primary wood-fuel collectors

Cooking is a very simple art but with far reaching effects to millions of people under the sun. It is estimated that globally more than three billion people currently rely on solid fuels. Most of this wood is collected from forests.  Worst of all is that in Africa, burden of wood fuel collection still lies on women and girls who need to shoulder effects that come with it i.e. walking for long distances and exposure to many risks including; animal attacks, rape etc.

In the effort to liberate women and empower them while at the same mitigating Climate change and indoor air pollution in Kenya Carbon Zero Kenya has continued promoting the use of clean energy and improving community livelihoods. In the Mathira east project, the company continues to advocate and champion adoption of clean and energy efficient cook stoves not only to campaign against green house gas emissions but also improving the lives of the community both economically and socially. Notable features of the Carbon Zero stove is in its state- of –the- art construction technology which highly contributes to over 50 % energy saving by use of lesser fuel as well as lesser smoke emissions due a longer combustion chamber which allows for complete combustion of gases.

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Margret Gathoni is an Elder in Thagana village in Mathira sub-county of the central region of Kenya, one of the Carbon Zero cook stove project areas. She has been with CZK team since the issuance of CZK ICS, through to education of beneficiaries .She liaised with other area leaders within her sub county and project officers to ensure the her community members take advantage of the project by getting rid of all three stone stoves in exchange of the improved cook stoves distributed in the area by Carbon Zero.  In this locality, wood fuel is a scarce commodity and the cost has risen as more and more forests were being cleared for wood fuel.

Gathoni has been a key role model in her community through active mobilizing women to form Self Help Groups under the umbrella of Carbon Zero project, Mathira. In these groups, women are educated on the benefits that come by use of carbon zero stoves, and the importance of conserving our forests.

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Gathini says that many women since acquiring the ICS have been freed, and rather than spend too much time in the forests looking for firewood they are now able to actively engage in income generating activities boosting their family’s revenues. She further says that most women have enough time to fully participate in other development activities and not just searchers of wood fuel as the case was before. And this has made women more productive.  She says that many women in the area are now doing mixed farming, while others are in small businesses. She adds that this  has empowered women as they are able to contribute towards the family needs as well unlike before when women could hardly do anything else since they would spend most of their time looking for wood fuel which wasted  a lot of time impoverishing them and their families.

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Projections for climate change indicate that it will increase the fuelwood-stress in the developing nations if not managed through technology i.e. increase adoption of ICS. With further reduction of forests for farming, urbanization and firewood the role for women as wood searchers is going to be more of an uphill battle. And for this reason Carbon Zero continues to work with rural communities in Kenya to help fight climate change and this social dimension challenge that affects engagement of women in development activities.

 

It was a great visit – Thank you Toshiba TEC, MediaCom, Mark Simpson and Paul Chiplen.

The Uganda projects have continued to register success in providing safe clean water to the communities through the rehabilitation and maintenance of boreholes hence reduced dependency on firewood to boil their drinking water. This has been made possible by the partnership and continuous support from companies like MediaCom and Toshiba TEC through its Toshiba CarbonZero scheme.

At the close of October, MediaCom and Toshiba TEC accompanied by Mark Simpson and Paul Chiplen traveled over 4000 miles to come and visit the Lango safe Water projects in Northern Uganda with the purpose of learning more about the projects and meeting the communities benefiting from the clean water from these boreholes.

They were able to visit a number of boreholes in the districts of Kole and Otuke – part of the Lango areas where the projects are. The community engagement was very positive as they were able to learn more on how these boreholes have impacted on the lives of the people. The beneficiaries/water users appreciated the companies for the continuous support through great entertainment and hospitality in form of singing, dancing and passing a direct vote of thanks.

In addition to visiting the boreholes, they were also able to visit Abari Primary school, one of the beneficiaries of the Lango Safe Water project and CSR projects that were enrolled last year to provide solar lighting and health sensitization to schools in some of the project areas.

The trip was concluded with a visit to the great Murchison Falls National park – pictures tell it all.

On behalf of co2balance, thank you MediaCom and Toshiba TEC for the continuous support.

Karibu tena!

Transforming Rural Livelihoods

The Carbon Zero Kenya Aberdares ICS project started in the year 2011, with 10,200 stoves being distributed. Since then company invested in community awaress creation that so locals embrace the use the ICS thus moving from using 3-stone stoves (traditional stoves) to carbon zero improved cook stoves. Speaking to various stove beneficiaries the Carbon Zero ICS have led the community spending less of their time fetching firewood, visiting Kereita forest to collect firewood, spending less money on buying firewood but rather they spend much of their money and time doing other income generating activities improving their livelihood.

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According to Mary Njoki 65 years,  one of our stove beneficiaries from Bathi Village , a single mother of six children, the carbon zero stove has really helped her  in saving time  and money because  before the introduction  of carbon zero stoves in the area she used to spend much of her time visiting Kereita forest everyday collecting firewood which  is about 3km from her place, spending like 5hrs in a day (she used to go at  7:00am and  coming back at 11:00am when the sun is less hot) but since she received carbon zero stove, she only visits kereita forest once per week because the stove is more efficient and uses less firewood.  She also added that the time  she previously spent collecting firewood she nowadays uses it to concentrate with her farming activities i.e. planting carrots, kales, potatoes, cabbages and pruning peas trees and also spending some of her income from farming to educate her grandchildren.

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Mary Njoki added to say that, “I can testify that carbon zero stoves produce less soot/smokes as compared to 3-stone stoves which her neighbor Mama Grace uses everyday causing more problems on her family’s health (flu, coughing and eye irritation), causing her iron sheets discolor easily since 3-stone stoves use more firewood which is also poorly burnt as compared to carbon zero stoves which uses 2-3 small pieces of wood producing less soot”.

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From Mary’s opinion she can add that carbon zero stoves saves more on time, money and even school pupils they don’t spend much of their time on collecting firewood after school but rather they spend much of their time concentrating on their studies even in class because they don’t have to think about firewood collection since one bundle collected on Saturday can be used for long time.

Giving Power to rural women

With the support of Australian High Commission in Kenya in the 2015 Carbon Zero Kenya partnered with a women group (Umeme women group) in Western Kenya in Kisumu West to produce 900 cook stoves and sell them within the community. The women were empowered with skills in stove production and marketing.

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The aim of the Umeme Women’s Group Improved Cook Stove Project was to set up a self sustaining cook stove enterprise that was to construct and sell stoves within the local community. The project created some source of income for the women and thus enabling them improve their living standards.

Just to offer some background an acute shortage of fuel for cooking is one of the many problems faced by people in Kisumu West as it is the case in other parts of the country. Gathering fuel is generally women’s work but is fraught with dangers; they gamble with the risk of rape and life threatening attacks during their search for much needed firewood, in order to feed their families. In certain areas, local sources of firewood are completely depleted, leading women to travel further and further afield or to dig up tree roots, eliminating any chance of the trees growing again. Even if women survive this, they are still exposing themselves and their children to potentially deadly smoke fumes.

With the above challenges in mind and the financial support from the Australian High Commission Carbon Zero decided to tackle the challenges in Kisumu West through the use of more fuel-efficient Carbon Zero Artisanal Stove, which is both affordable and easy to use; cutting the amount of risky trips for firewood and allowing more trees the opportunity to grow. Subsequently, burning smaller amounts wood fuel means less smoke will engulf their homes and their lungs.

Carbon Zero Kenya mapped out several women groups in the area; vetted them and settled on one that was most convincing – Umeme women group. The group of ten women was well trained both in theory and practicals of artisanal stove production. After which the women were supported to source for materials and stove parts and produced a total of 900 cook stoves that they marketed within their community. The revenues collected from the sales helped the women earn an extra income. In addition the women started making weekly savings into a central kitty that they have been able to invest overtime further raising their incomes which has in a big way boosted their living standards.

Diana   is one of the women group members; the secretary of the group. Speaking to her she elaborates that prior to this project had always used the three stone cooker ever since she was born and had never seen an alternative cook stove. She says that previously she didn’t know how expensive it was sustaining a three stone stove. Knowing well that Kisumu West has fewer forests with most land under farming the only way to get firewood was and still is through buying. While using the three stone stove she says she used to buy wood worth 800/= Kenya shillings per week and this was too expensive for her.

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However she says that her turning point came in 2015 when together with the other women were selected to be trained on how to manufacture artisanal stoves and market them within their community. Diana says that after they were trained as a group they produced a total of 900 stoves that they sold out to locals. She gained skills in stove production, maintenance and also simple business skills that have been very essential in her life thereafter. As a group under her leadership the proceeds from sale of stoves were put into a table banking revolving fund that members have overtime been borrowing and paying back with little interest. She says that many group members have borrowed money and paid school fees for their children, some have borrowed to start different businesses and as they pay back their revolving fund has been growing and today they have even increased their membership.

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Diana explains how she borrowed from the group and started vegetable farming. The project has been on for the last two years and the returns are good. She is able to get an extra income to pay fees for her kids while at the same time get something to keep making contributions in the women group.  She explains that since she did not have formal employment she couldn’t borrow from the bank hence the capital they got from the sales of the stoves helped inject capital into their group that has seen them grow both individually and as a group in ways she cannot explain.

She further explains that many women call her within the local community at times to repair their stoves when they have for instance cracks and they pay her helping earn her earn her income.  She says today she her community as a stoves maintenance expert in the community. Within her own home Diana says that ever since she received the CZK stove she has seen a big difference in her life. For instance the improved cook stove saves wood fuel which enables her channel some of the money she would spend buying firewood to other development projects. As we part Diana says that for her the biggest thing out of the stove production enterprise set by Carbon Zero is that she was able to save and start a farming venture that has really improved her family’s income. She says that the project gave them power to improve their lives and turn around their fate.

 

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.

 

Protecting Forests is Vital; without them, Kenya would be little more than a desert

Forests influence climate, landform and soil composition and they exist in a wide variety. Each forest type has its own uniqueness and together these forests complement one another and perform the various socio-economic, ecological, environmental, cultural and spiritual functions. Forests remain vital sources livelihood and water to many people across the globe.

East Africa’s forests are rapidly declining due to pressure from population increase and other land uses. In Kenya the case is not different, destruction of forests has occurred at an alarming rate. This puts so much strain to forests that are supposed to support over many people depending on the natural resources emanating from them.

Following the alarming dwindling speed of Kenya’s forest cover the Minister of Environment Judy Wakhungu on 8th September 2016 pronounced governments plan to actively promote tree planting to regain our lost glory.  She explained that these re-a forestation efforts would provide Kenyans “with the opportunity to reduce poverty, to improve food security, to address climate change and to conserve our valued biodiversity.”

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Forests are destroyed due to many different reasons and wanton and deliberate destruction of forest for fuel wood remains one of the main reasons resulting to virtual depletion of forest vegetation cover. In the long run this has in return resulted to drying of rivers, soil erosion, scorching sun, human-wildlife conflict etc. Local communities have due to the negative climatic changes become even more dependent on the forest for their livelihoods, causing a vicious cycle of poverty. Women and girls move longer distances in search of fuel wood and water, exposing them to danger of attacks and sexual assaults. With the loss of flora and fauna, tourism income is dwindled, bringing the curio business down with it.

Having critically examined effects of climate change Carbon Zero Kenya understood clearly that the challenges facing Kenya’s forests required several approaches and efforts to plant more trees alone would not help if more trees were still being cut at high speed for firewood. To this effect Carbon Zero introduced energy efficient cook stoves in various communities in Kenya that came to replace traditional three stone stoves. This has indeed resulted in immense savings in terms of the wood being used for cooking ultimately reducing pressure on the forests giving them a chance to restore themselves for the past four years.

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Traditional three stone stoves are criticized for their inefficiency in fuel consumption. Traditional wood fires are inefficient at transferring the released energy into the cooking vessel. Most of the released energy in the wood is wasted heating the surrounding air rather than heating the cooking vessel. The inefficient transfer of energy requires the user to use more wood fuel, increasing the amount of wood harvested from the surrounding environment – this leads to high levels of deforestation. The increased demand for wood can further deplete the already stressed local natural environment.

Carbon Zero Kenya has been on the fore-front of fighting climate change in Kenya and beyond through the use of more fuel-efficient woodstoves, which are both affordable and easy to use; cutting the amount of risky trips for firewood and allowing more trees the opportunity to grow. Subsequently, burning smaller amounts wood fuel means less smoke will engulf people’s homes and their lungs. This further translates into improved health and time savings for households, in preservation of forests and associated ecosystem services, and in reducing emissions that contribute to global climate change.