Doing Firewood Maths

In our daily work at Carbon Zero we interact with community members using our improved cook stoves. And last week was no different. Our field staffs in Kisumu East were out in the community creating awareness on the usage of the improved stove. While in the field they met a lady by the name Emma Anyango one of the many Carbon Zero improved cook stoves beneficiaries in the area.  Speaking to her; she noted that that she is 33 years of age, married with three children.

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As we sort to understand from her if the CZK stove has had any impact on her life Emma narrated that ….”Initially, being a house wife, made me depend on my husband who is a water vendor, for financial support. The money he provided was not sufficient to cater for all our needs. He could hardly afford getting us basic needs.  Before receiving the improved cook stove from carbon zero Kenya, I used to use the three stone stove which used to consume a lot of fuel. The traditional stove was so wasteful, consuming a lot of fuel.’’

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She continued saying……’’ Our village is approximately 7kms from the nearest forest; hence the only way to get fuel is through purchasing in the market. The fuel prices are high and worst they also fluctuate during the rainy season making it difficult to save. I would buy 5 bundles a week which cost me ksh 1000/- and still add some more in the middle of the week and the amount of smoke emitted made me cough and my eyes watery making cooking a pitiable affair. I would spend a lot more taking my three kids to hospital as they were always coughing – respiratory diseases were just too much. Hospital bills were making me and my husband even more poor as time went by.’’

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Emma further stated that….’’being a beneficiary of the CZK stove changed my life completely. First, I got to interact with Christine Atira, a regional CZK staff in this area, she held my hand and taught me how to use the stove. She emphasized on climate change issues and the need to protect the environment by proper wood management. The CZK stove uses less fuel wood while retaining heat. Now I buy 2 bundles of wood which cost me kshs 400/= in a week thus saving KES 600/-, money I managed to save overtime and opened up a small shop selling general household items. This has helped us as a family increase our income. Now I no longer depend on my husband for everything, I support him in paying fees for our kids plus catering for other basic needs for our family. With the shop I can afford a decent meal for my kids who are now healthier and even perfuming better in school. All I can say is that let Carbon Zero continue with this initiative to reach out to many more families that are equally suffering. Cooking may sound like a non-issue in a household but it plays a key role in the overall survival of a family. To be sincere Carbon Zero made me a proud African woman. Now my kitchen is very clean and cooking has been made a wonderful experience.’’

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Uncovering Success; getting feedback directly from project beneficiaries in the rural communities

Many of us wake up every morning and go to work; we do everything possible to ensure we attain results – tangible results for that matter. But how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?

At this point I need to introduce my Company and what we do. I work for Carbon Zero Kenya an environmental project developer with more than 7 years experience implementing energy efficient stove projects. In close cooperation with our UK partner Co2balance UK Ltd – CZK has distributed approximately 62,000 improved cook stoves throughout East Africa. These projects have helped local communities improve their standards of living across environmental, social and economic domains, by minimizing long journeys spent collecting wood fuel, reducing deforestation, providing local employment opportunities and most importantly reducing health hazards.

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Late last month we made visits to our project areas in Aberdares, Nyeri, Kisumu and Eldoret and the responses we got from the beneficiaries were so promising moving into the future. We visited many households with our improved cook stoves and met women who narrated over and over again how the stoves have drastically helped reduce the demand for firewood and thus protecting local forests, which in a bigger picture leads to reduced CO2 emissions. The women further explained how the Carbon Zero efficient cook stoves have enabled a superior and more efficient combustion process, which has improved the air quality within their respective homes.

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A majority of the beneficiaries we met reported less smoke, less eye irritations, ease to breathe while cooking, less coughing and less suffering from headache. They further noted that besides improvements in environmental impact and health of women and children, the distribution of the efficient cook stoves have led to immense social and economical development.  They can save money which would otherwise have been consumed by firewood to invest in other vital family needs i.e. paying school fees for their kids. The stories uncovered successes of our cook stove projects beyond our imagination.

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Some women noted with that the carbon zero improved cook stoves are safe, stable and dramatically reducing the time, cost, and danger associated with collecting fuel from risky forests.  With all these positive feedback from our project beneficiaries we were able to get back to our initial question; how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?  These responses gave us a clear picture – they answered the question very well and to this effect we can only aim to do more to reach as many more areas. Many times we have understood the reduction in wood use from using our improved cook stoves but with this visit to we are now able to understand both the intended and unintended impacts of our projects.

 

 

 

Local Stakeholder Consultation in Northern Uganda

CO2balance intend to develop a series of new borehole projects under the GS1247 Improved Kitchen Regimes Multi-Country PoA in northern Uganda (Alebong, Otuke, Dokolo, Kole and Oyam Districts). As part of this process we are interested in receiving feedback during the early stages of our project design and are inviting any interested parties including international NGOs, local policy makers and community members who will benefit from the projects, to attend the Gold Standard stakeholder consultation at Omoro Town Council, Alebtong District on 6th May 2016, 9:00am.

The meeting provides a great opportunity to raise interest and  seek the opinions of a variety of groups on the project’s design, which we believe is a crucial step to enhancing community ownership and ensuring that the projects are well received.

For more information about the project and venue please see the invite and project summary below. If you would like to attend or have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Project SummaryStakeholder Invitation

Zoba Anseba Cookstoves: Tekea and her Award Winning Eritrean Stove

Tekea Tsefagherghesh keeps her home spotlessly clean – not an easy task in Eritrea, a hot and dusty sub-Saharan country.  Tekea’s village, Adi Tekelezan, is 2,500 metres above sea level and about 40 minutes’ drive north of Eritrea’s capital Asmara. Within the low walls is the mid-sized hut that contains Tekea’s most proud possession; her self-built improved cook stove.

The traditional stove with its open flame and voracious appetite for fuel is very detrimental for the health of families and their living environments.  One familiar image of Africa is of women and children carrying heavy bundles of sticks, sometimes for many miles. Tekea was one such woman, gathering sticks three or four times a week and carrying them many miles back to her home, or spending her little amount of cash buying them instead.

Tekea’s new stove is quite substantial, at over two metres in length.  It has various doors and openings to regulate the temperature as well as large, round hotplates so that she can cook Injera, the traditional bread eaten all over East Africa.  The design is simple but very innovative, and has won many awards for it’s inventor, local man Debesai Ghebrehiwet such as The Green Apple Award and the Tech Museum award. Each stove saves at least three tonnes of CO2 per year.

Tekea has decorated her stove with hand painted flowers and leaves.  The huge advantage of the stove is that it uses nearly 60% less fuel that the traditional stove and any harmful fumes are funneled out of the small, enclosed kitchen hut. All of the materials used to build the stove are sourced locally.

In this community-led programme, Vita supplies the moulds and the knowledge, but the women themselves contribute towards the cost, as well as building each stove with the help of the other village women. Involving the whole community ensures that no individual family is left out. Tekea is now a trainer, and works with Vita’s home economists to bring the programme to the wider community. Vita has an integrated approach to enabling farm families achieve sustainable livelihoods, involving not just stoves but clean water pumps, solar lights latrines and trees. This creates ‘green zones’ that not only benefit the families but have a hugely positive impact on the environment.

For Tekea, the drudgery of gathering sticks is dramatically reduced, and this has given her far more time to spend working to better her future and that of her children. Tekea, like more than 40% of women in Eritrea, rears her family of seven children alone. The extra income she can now earn is used to buy milk and help pay for her children’s education.

 

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Award winning Mogogo Stove in Zoba Anseba

Tekea and her family

Tekea and her family in the village of Adi-Tekelezan

Zoba Maekel, Eritrea – Completion of Borehole Repairs

After three months of enormous efforts our project partners Vita have successfully completed the repair and maintenance of 48 bore holes in the central region administration of Eritrea (or Zoba Maekel) This repair programme has received mass support and satisfaction from the beneficiaries that will now benefit from access to clean water across the entire district.

It is with enormous pleasure and pride on behalf of CO2balance that we have been able to be part of these projects which truly alter the lives of the most deserving people on the planet. I have seen first hand how illness from drinking dirty water and the time lost fetching it robs entire communities of their futures while cascading them onto a cycle of poverty which makes Eritrea one of the most under-developed countries in the world.

CO2balance and Vita are seeking to address extreme poverty in Eritrea going forward over the next number of years. Zoba Maekel is just one part of the programme being implemented which is seeking to break the cycle of poverty in Eritrea and long may it continue to thrive and develop going forward.  All our work is done in conjunction with the communities and people of Eritrea. Eritreans are proud of their country. Proud of what they have achieved in such a short time since becoming independent. In the villages and the towns where co2balance and Vita operate is to be found Eritrea’s greatest strength; the resilience of its people.

It was Robert Unger (philosopher and politician) who famously articulated that “At every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different”. CO2balance together with Vita do not lack any clarity or imagination on a vision for Eritrea. Ultimately, their programme has the dream of repairing all the broken boreholes in the country and providing clean water for thousands of people. Watch the space for this dream becoming a reality.

See a montage of photos from the borehole repair programme in the beautiful country of Eritrea through 2016.

 

 

Eritrea: Programme Report

Recently I had the opportunity to accompany our project partners Vita on an in country visit to Eritrea to report on the great work currently going on in country. The collaboration between Vita and co2balance continues to go from strength to strength and it impacts on the lives of Eritrean people is profound. I have seen this first hand.

The overall programme now consists of 2 cookstove VPAs in Zoba Anseba and 4 boreholes VPAs in Zoba Maekel with planned expansion of more borehole VPAs in Zoba Debub through 2016. Borehole repairs are moving at an excellent pace thanks the careful coordination of the Vita team in Eritrea.

I was humbled to have discussions with villagers about the extraordinary improvements that the cookstoves and borehole rehabilitations have made to their lives. To see the look of joy on the faces of women and children as the first jerrycans are filled from new boreholes, some of whom have had to travel for miles to collect water from unsafe sources is something that will live long in my memory.

These are some of the poorest people on earth but the welcome they extended, their unwillingness to let us leave there village without sampling their finest Injera (local bread) and yogurt was truly inspiring. In the villages and the towns where co2balance and Vita operate is to be found Eritrea’s greatest strength; the resilience of its people. To understand the foundation for this resilience we must consider the history of the African continent. Four hundred years of slave trade. One hundred years of colonialism. This equates to five centuries of external domination. Now Eritrea has a chance to forge its own path. In respect of this, it is a young country (formally becoming independent in 1993) on a young continent.

At co2balance we are determined on improving the lives of Eritrean people. We look forward to expanding our work there. Watch this space for high quality HD footage of the work in Eritrea coming soon.

 

Malawi Clean Water Carbon Credits: First of its kind

Since 2013, CO2balance have been developing a number of borehole rehabilitation projects in Malawi under the Gold Standard voluntary carbon offset scheme in a unique collaboration with Concern Universal. After 2 years, we are glad to announce that 4 VPAs in the Dowa and Kasungu districts have recently issued carbon credits for the first time. This is a major achievement for everyone that has been involved in the projects, in particular our staff in the UK who have worked tirelessly to see these projects through to issuance.

The issuance of these unique VPAs should provide the springboard needed to drive these projects forward for their entire lifetimes. Congratulations to all on this including Concern Universal. A tremendous achievement.

 

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CO2balance Issues 4 Ugandan Borehole VPAs under The Gold Standard

Since 2013, CO2balance has been developing a number of borehole rehabilitation projects in Uganda under the Gold Standard voluntary carbon offset scheme. After almost 2 years, we are glad to announce that 4 VPAs in the Lango sub-region (Dokolo, Alebtong and Otuke Districts) have recently issued carbon credits for the first time. This is a major achievement for everyone that has been involved in the projects, in particular our staff in Uganda who have worked extensively with the communities and other local stakeholders to garner support and ensure that there is participation at all levels. Although this may seem straightforward, in practice there are a plethora of challenges that need to be negotiated especially when operating in such remote and poverty stricken environments.
Between 1987 and 2007, the Lango sub-region was subject to countless human rights atrocities by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which has had long lasting impacts on the social and economic fabric of the affected areas . It is estimated that over 20,000 children were abducted by the LRA many of whom were forced to commit horrific acts of violence. Around 1 million people fled their homes and ended up moving to temporary camps for the internally displaced (IDPs). The prolonged period of conflict inevitably led to the deterioration of institutions and basic services. All the challenges related to rebuilding a war-torn region are evident, from stabilising the economy and restoring infrastructure to reintegrating former members of the LRA and addressing human rights abuses.

Memorial Site for the 2004 LRA Massacre in Otuke District

Memorial Site for the 2004 LRA Massacre in Otuke District

 

Building a biogas plant for a local school in Barilonyo

Building a biogas plant for a local school in Barlonyo

Over the last 3 years, CO2balance has rehabilitated 41 boreholes in the Lango sub-region  which supply clean water to over 20,000 people who previously relied on open water sources such as lakes and ponds. As local governments lack sufficient funds for water infrastructure, these projects are playing a small but important role in the region’s post conflict development.

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CO2balance realises that community participation is crucial to the long term success of its projects

 

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One of CO2balance’s rehabilitated boreholes in the Lango sub-region