CSR Project in Rwanda – Update on Impacts

In 2017, CO2balance has been building on its successful carbon offset projects in Rwanda by conducting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project. Building on CO2balance’s work to provide communities with clean water in Gatsibo district, the CSR project has ensured that 4 primary schools have the facilities to make the best possible use of their water supply. This has involved the provision of handwashing facilities to schools where previously none existed, as well as rehabilitation of school toilet facilities to ensure that they are hygienic, lockable and private.

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A handwashing point in use at Kiramuruzi Primary School

This work has been complemented by building the capacity of schools to promote hygiene and sanitation. This began in early 2017, with the training by Rwandans 4 Water of teachers and groups of pupils on approaches to hygiene and sanitation. This led to the creation of WASH clubs in all 4 schools, which now meet on a weekly basis during term time and give presentations in school assemblies on the importance of handwashing and personal hygiene.

Ruth Muhorakeye, who is Deputy Head Teacher at Gorora Primary School which has been participating in the project, has given very positive feedback on the impact of these WASH activities. She notes that prior to the project, the remoteness of the school meant that having access to WASH information and facilities was a major challenge, but that she has seen major changes in recent months: “Making the toilet facilities private and enclosed was very important for the dignity of the pupils here, especially for the girls who suffered great shame at having nowhere to privately relieve themselves. We are very happy that pupils don’t have to worry about this anymore. We now see pupils washing their hands every time they use the latrine, and following the WASH training, teachers report that children are now engaging much more enthusiastically in keeping the classrooms and school clean.”

The CSR project’s other main activity has been the installation at each school of solar panels for lighting and charging points. This has been a major development, bringing electricity and light to the schools for the first time, as they are all located in areas which are not year linked to the national grid. This has been a tipping point, opening up major new opportunities for the schools. For example, Ntete Primary School had previously been provided with a laptop but had no way in which to charge it. However, the installation of a solar charging point has allowed this to be kept charged up, enabling teachers to download recent curriculum materials via mobile internet and present to pupils on subject matter to which they had previously had no access.

Light in classroom

A classroom lit up by a solar-powered light

Another impact reported by all primary schools has been that having light in classrooms for the first time has enabled them to keep the doors open in the evening, allowing pupils to study after hours. This is a major development, as the majority of pupils did not previously have lights in their homes, making it very difficult to complete homework. The benefits of this have been most keenly felt by pupils in class P6, the top year of primary school, who have been able to study in the evenings in preparation for their final exams, which are essential for gaining entry to secondary school.

The project has now passed its mid-point and will run until April 2018, when Rwandans 4 Water will hand over the continuation of the activities to the headteachers of the schools involved. Watch this space for more updates in the coming months!

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Cooking with a Difference

Our initial baseline findings before starting off the improved cook stove project in Kisumu East indicated that people are more than willing to shift from using traditional cook stoves to using improved cook stoves only if they perceive a genuine utility value in adopting the improved cook stove. The success of improved cook stoves depends much on its design. The design ought to be well adapted to people’s needs keeping in mind the general design principles of efficiency, emission reduction and ergonomics characteristics that the carbon zero stove exhibit.

The recently concluded Monitoring Kitchen Survey conducted in Kisumu East in August 2016 led us to a household where Masela Odero, a 73 year old widow who lives with her daughter in law in Simboi village that is about 12kms from Kisumu town recounted her story.

Masela noted that “…..The three stone stove wasn’t working for me, because the stones were not stable enough to hold a cooking pot firmly. I kept struggling to adjust the stove size according to the cooking pot size and also regulating the amount of fuel was chaotic .As a result I had to bend in order to cook therefore by the time the meal was ready I was too tired to eat hence I had to look for a quick alternative source of stove .I had to pay a neighbor who was demanding 500/- ksh to build me a none portable stove, little did I know that it was the beginning of my problems.”

She continued to narrate that “First the stove consumed a lot of wood fuel since not all the heat was channeled to the cooking pot also the stove had no liner a whole log would fit in it. The smoke emitted was a major concern because there was blackening of the wall from soot and coughing was inevitable. Cooking wasn’t pleasant because the too much heat would make me stay far away from the stove, to avoid this I told my daughter in law to cook all the time, of course it made her dodge by pretending to go to the river in order to avoid cooking. In addition to all this I had to pay for repairs and maintenance of stove, the clay used was poor quality. Cooking was a chore I enjoyed but now I was made to think twice”.

Further she stated that “Just as I was about to give up on cooking carbon zero distributed improved stoves at no fee and I was a lucky beneficiary. It is fixed thus it eliminates the possibility of it toppling over when the food is being cooked or when children are around. Less firewood is used, which means that the wood burns more efficiently in the improved stove as compared to traditional cook stove. The liner minimizes the smoke emitted outside this reduces Blackening of the walls from the soot. This contributes to a great extent to the comfort of cooking making it enjoyable therefore no more dodging for Selina. For the health benefits my back does not hurt because I sit next to the stove where the heat is easily regulated. The best part about of the stove is that we have contact information of the field officers in case of issues like damages the stove is repaired free of charge hence making it affordable and sustainable for me”.

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The above photo shows a different household a woman cooking using traditional stove.

Look at the wall full of soot and the whole log that had to be used. The cracks on the edge clearly show the stove is not stable. The smoke emitted is also very wanting.

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The above photo shows Mrs. Odero cooking on a carbon Zero Improved cook stove.

With a smile she says that ….‘‘No trace of smoke is evident, costs on wood is friendly due to low fuel consumption. Sitting next to the stove is easy since it is fixed .the wall is clean and I love cooking all over again. My sincere thanks to Carbon Zero for the great job they do in the rural communities in Kenya and beyond.”

By Christine Nabutete and Moses Maina

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 tore apart the fabric of the society. 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 has inevitably led to the deterioration of institutions and basic services. All the challenges related to rebuilding a war-torn region remain, from stabilising the economy and restoring infrastructure to reintegrating LRA escapees 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

 

 

Case Study – CO2balance in the community: School Kitchen Project

One of the Gold Standard projects our customers have helped to support is in the Msambweni district of Kenya

CO2balance are well known for their carbon reduction projects, in particular the household energy efficient stoves. What’s less well know are the range of additional projects we are involved in within our project communities in Africa.

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With support from corporate client Toshiba, co2balance commissioned two school kitchens during 2012.  These kitchens provide an efficient method for cooking that halves the amount of fuel required to support the school feeding program. This has a huge impact on the school in areas where the school feeding program directly impacts the number of children that can be educated. A reliable hot meal from school is often the only substantial food many of these children get during the day. As many students walk considerable distance to school (4-6KM is not unusual) going home for lunch is not an option.

Simple projects that have a lasting effect.

For Muhaka Secondary School in southern Kenya providing a hot meal for the students was a real problem. Their existing facility consisted of a palm coved shelter with an open fire. This method of cooking is really inefficient with fuel and the setup is less than healthy for the people working in the kitchen or the food they produce.

 

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The school is the first provision in the district for secondary education and with numbers set to grow massively over the next couple of years the existing facility was ill equipped to cope. The local community has done what they can to support the school, funding additional teachers on top of the state allocation, but a new kitchen was well out of reach.  With the help of Toshiba, co2balance commissioned the building of the new school kitchen, incorporating three institutional stoves, essentially very large versions of our household project stoves. This purpose built structure has solid walls and floor and secure grills on the windows to keep out pests and vermin,(monkeys are a real problem stealing from the previous kitchen). The stoves have efficient chimneys that draw the smoke outside and there is a good deal of light and fresh air, making the kitchen a healthier place to work.

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Next to the kitchen area is a secure store where maize and beans, the mainstay of Kenyan school cooking, can be stored safe and dry, reducing wastage and spoil from damp sacks and poor storage from before. The reduction in fuel required will save school budgets and reduce the need for pupils to collect wood on their way to school. The school has also started a tree planting scheme within their grounds that in the tropical climate of the area, should be ready to support at least some of their requirements for wood fuel in just a few years.

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With the new stoves in place the kitchen is set to be able to serve the needs of the school role as it reaches its peak of 900 pupils in the next two years.

This is one example of many community projects CO2balance are involved with. We concentrate our efforts on projects that can assist communities to help themselves out of poverty.

We are always looking for further corporate support to help us achieve our aims of providing more support for our host communities. If you would like to know more about our work or how you can get involved please contact us, we would be very happy to hear from you.