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.
Site before rehabilitation
Preparation for pump installation
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.
Switch controller being tested
Technicians checking the solar panels
Installation of the submersible pump
Electronic works in progress
Connecting solar panels
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.
old unsafe source 1
old unsafe source 2
old unsafe source 3
old unsafe source 4
old unsafe source 5
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.
Checking and cleaning of the tanks1
Water being pumped out
Checking and cleaning of the tanks
Storage water tanks
Dropping the pipes in
Water and……..more 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!
According to WHO indoor smoke from coal, wood or dung – used as cooking fuel by more than 3 billion people worldwide – ranks ahead of unsafe water as a cause of death in low- and middle-income countries. Almost 2 million deaths a year are caused by cooking smoke, which is linked to pneumonia in children, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, low birth weight babies and lung cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
Most families across the globe especially in developing nations depend on traditional stoves for cooking. These stoves emit a huge amount of smoke that affects the families. Because cooking chores most often fall to women, and children are typically at hand, they are the primary victims of smoke-related respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoke inhalation from cooking over an open fire annually kills 1.6 million adults and children annually.
In Kenya Carbon Zero Kenya has worked with local community members distributing rocket stoves to help reduce effects of three stone fires. The rocket stoves have been praised by various users in local communities because they save precious wood while reducing cutting of forests, reduces the risk of children injured by fire, and not least the flex oven create less smoke indoors, which is vital for health. Many say the rocket stoves have simplified cleaned their kitchens by sending away smoke.
Recently in one of our community cook stove projects in Western Kenya in Kisumu we visited Mary Akeyo one of our rocket stove beneficiaries who shared her experience having used the Carbon Zero Kenya rocket stove for the last five years. Mary explained that prior to getting the rocket stove she used to have a traditional three stone stove, which would emit a lot of smoke that affected her and her family. The stove would emit smoke that made her and her three kids cough a lot forcing them to seek medical attention many times, at least thrice a month where they were charged about Kes 300 per checkup per person. This saw her family spent at least KES 1500 per month.
Also she explained that during this period she had issues with her eyes, shedding tears while cooking even her husband couldn’t support her with the cooking chores as he feared the smoke. Her kids could not even read while at home as the smoke would not provide a conducive environment for them to study. But today she is happy to cook anytime as the smoke is a gone case, her kids can study freely, the many visits she used to go to hospital for treatment of coughs are no longer there, she is happy. Even her husband can afford to cook a meal or two for his family as the kitchen is clean. She further explains that her cooking pots are clean too unlike before when they were all infested with smoke.
Mary explains that smoke is really dangerous and without one noticing it has effects that can even cause death. She explains the difficulty in breaking her youngest child used to have and how scared she would be at times thinking her kid would collapse and die, she even feared living her kids at home alone. But to her excitement all these are no longer part of her worries. She even says that part of the money she has managed to save from going to hospital for medical checkups she has used to it to feed her family. She is really excited about the rocket stove. As we finalize our chat with Mary she reminds us that smoke is dangerous!
Cooking on a three stone stove is the cheapest way to prepare food in many parts of the world. This is because to assemble a three stone stove you only require three suitable stones of the same height on which a cooking pot is balanced over a fire. That’s how cheap the stove is. This make many families across the word especially in Africa fall for them.
Ok cheap is expensive, many say so and indeed even in the cooking sector this turns out to be true. The seemingly cheap stove on the contrary has many problems:
- The inefficient transfer of energy requires the user to use more wood fuel, increasing the amount of wood harvested from the surrounding environment. The increased demand for wood can further deplete the already stressed local natural environment.
- Smoke is vented into the home, instead of outdoors, causing health problems.
- Only one cooking pot can be used at a time.
- The use of an open fire creates a risk of burns and scalds. Especially when the stove is used indoors, cramped conditions make adults and particularly children susceptible to falling or stepping into the fire and receiving burns.
The World Health Organization has documented a significant number of deaths caused by smoke from home fires. The negative impacts of such a process of cooking can be reduced by using improved cook stoves.
In Kaptagat in the vast Rift Valley Region of Kenya we visit one of the Co2balance improved cook stove beneficiaries Alice Kiplimo who tells us “Tangu nipewe hii jiko nimefurahia sana kwa sababu inafanya kazi harakana inatumia kuni chache(since I was given this stove five years ago it cooks faster and also consumes less wood”. She adds that because of its efficiency on wood usage it saves her time and in that she is able to do other activities that are incomes generating promoting the living standards of her family. For instance the time she would use going to collect firewood in the forest she tends her small piece of land with passion fruits that when ripe gives her up to 200/- per kilo, and she makes up to 15 – 20 kilos per week.
In her explanation she manages to clearly exhibit how the improved Co2balance stove has not only helped her change her cooking conditions but how the stove has changed her life as a whole. She says that before receiving the improved cook stove from Co2balance she used to use a three stove which consumed excess wood not allowing her have any extra time for any other activity; she basically would spend all her free time in the forest looking for firewood. However after getting the Co2balance improved cook stove which uses less fuel she has had many benefits; reduce wood fuel consumption by almost a half, improved health – more coughing like before, less time spent searching for wood etc. She explains how the improved stove has freed her allowing her function fully being her family’s bread-winner being able to invest in her farm planting passion fruits and having time to manage the fruits well. And as a single mother of two this has helped get earn an income which is helping her sustain her family.
With this living story it’s now possible to see the bigger picture and realize that improved cook stoves are not just for cooking. They change lives beyond cooking.
Over the years Co2balance has been a front runner in improving access to affordable and reliable energy services for cooking in developing countries. And it’s on this basis that it has invested in over 67,000 improved cook stoves distributed across Kenya and still seeks to partner with like minded organizations to reach many more families which are still in dire need for an improved cook stove because it understands that it’s not just about cooking.
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.
Drilling in progress
Apron and drainage casting
Installation in progress
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.
Previous water source
Dried up open well
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.
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’
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.
A typical drinking water storage pot
Drinking water pot
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.
Budumba community attending WASH
Bukongolo community attending WASH
Bukayale community attending WASH
Nansohera community attending WASH
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.
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
Carbon Zero Kenya Limited though not so pronounced remains a huge player in environmental conservation initiatives in Africa for instance considering its efforts to combat effects of climate change in Kenya. Over the past few years Carbon Zero has helped install over 65,000 cook stoves in the country which have gone a long way in reducing wood use and thus emission reductions. Among the many beneficiaries of Carbon Zero improved energy efficient cook stoves in Kenya are members of Kasighau location in Taita-Taveta district of Coast province. Kasigau location is a semi-arid land with magnificent Kasighau hills.
Since the installation of Carbon Zero stoves many benefits have been realized by the stove beneficiaries and the general community at large. Before the distribution of Carbon Zero stoves locals here used the three stone fires. As a result their kitchens were marred with smoke. These smoke kept men from these kitchens leaving women to “die” alone. Kids would occasionally come in either to help with a few kitchen chores or to get a share of their meals. The male partner (husbands) completely avoided the place and their share of the meal could be taken and consumed away from the kitchen. This was because the kitchen was always filled with irritating smoke and ash.
The smoky, ash filled kitchen could not be tolerated by the African man (husband) who is, according to the traditional and cultural perspective, superior in the family and his role in the family, being equated with that of a king. In Kasighau location we meet Mzee Muinde’s family and listened to their story before and after getting the carbon zero stoves, what has changed and how, what has been their experience etc.
After installation of Carbon Zero stoves the situation has drastically changed. There has been an increase in the involvement of male family members in kitchen cooking chores. This is because cooking has become easy and convenient for them. A smokeless kitchen is a major factor for the male family members to be involved. This has made the female members proud and happy as their male counterparts help in the cooking chores as demonstrated by Mrs. Muinde’s story.
Below; Mzee Muinde helping his wife prepare chapatis: An increase in male family members participation on cooking chores has been realized in the area since inception of Carbon Zero stoves.
Below; Mzee Muinde, 3rd from left, in the baraza meeting where he is the baraza’s secretary: unlike in the past, male members in the community can now help in the kitchen chores and still hold their positions in the society.
Based on this encounter, not only is The Carbon Zero Company providing beneficiaries with energy efficient and clean cooking stoves but also impacting their social lives positively. By involvement of the male partners in routine kitchen chores, there is reduction in the kitchen work load which was primarily for women alone. Women have more time to rest and also engage themselves in developmental issues that affect the society. The family harmony and unity is enhanced when the male and female partners co-operate in the kitchen chores. What used to be a social unit in theory is now a social unit practically.