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.
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.
Last week, I received confirmation that I obtained a high pass in the GHG Management Institute’s course in Organisational Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Accounting; this is part of our constant efforts to upskill the team so that we can continue to work to the highest standards. All our business reports are produced in accordance with the internationally-recognised GHG Protocol as part of our 3 steps of carbon management; Measure, Reduce, Offset.
We encourage non-state actors to play a leading role in the global effort to limit Global Warming to below 2°C, while aiming for 1.5°C, following the Paris Agreement. This is in line with the Gold Standard’s ‘Best Practice Corporate Climate Action’ with the principal message being ‘reduce within, finance beyond’; the guidelines encourage corporates to mitigate their own emissions in line with science, while also supporting developing countries and the global economy to transition to a low-carbon future.
With so many new initiatives for businesses, it is easier than ever for a company to assess and recognise its impact, measure and target where to reduce internally, whilst also supporting communities and efforts to reduce the global impact. The benefits for companies go beyond energy saving and improving the bottom-line; businesses can gain recognition for their actions, and reduce exposure to carbon taxes or other future legislation.
CO2balance remain at the forefront of these efforts, helping to recognise carbon as a resource to be managed and leveraging the benefits of doing so.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
This month I was lucky enough to be able to visit the fantastic projects that are being implemented in partnership with Vita, an Irish NGO. Vita are working with communities across the country to build capacity and work towards sustainable livelihoods, building efficient cook stoves and rehabilitating non-functioning boreholes.
Below are a selection of photos from my visit:
View from escarpment
Original water source
Witnessing some of the harsh climatic conditions first-hand highlighted the need for the efficient use of resources and these projects make a huge contribution to support rural communities.
I am incredibly grateful to the team in Eritrea for hosting me and showing me the ongoing work in a fascinating country during my time there. Yikenyelna!
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”.
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.
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.”
Before the last four years moving most if not all households in Shimba Hills (Maungu, Kasighau, Golini and Muhaka) in Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties were using traditional three-stone fireplace for cooking. During that period women used to spend an average of 15 hours per week collecting fuel wood from local forests in the larger Shimba Hills area for home use. Poverty rate around Shimba Hills is above 50 percent and unemployment above 25 percent. This called for a simple and affordable efficient stove technology to reduce wood consumption and preserve unique vegetation and biodiversity within the region. And that’s how Carbon Zero came into the area and with the support of local leaders in consultation with local community members implemented an energy efficient cook stove project. The project therefore identified the efficient CZK cook stove as an appropriate technology for this region.
The CZK stove is 50 – 60 percent more efficient than the three-stone stove. The project has been lauded by local community members as a life changer and a great step in the right direction. Some of the impacts and benefits of the projects so far include;
A majority of households in Shimba Hills area have benefitted from better air and from having to spend less time for collecting firewood
Over 8,000 efficient cook stoves were installed in the area
Most women have been able to create time to engage in other economic activities raising their income and living standard of their families
A large percentage of beneficiaries say that indoor air quality has improved
Each stove avoids about 3,2 t CO2 and 2 tons wood per year
The project has so far saved massive tonnes of firewood
After four years since the stoves were distributed and optimally being used some started developing cracks and this led to the need to plan and repair and maintain them. The local community members having enjoyed the benefits of the stoves through Carbon Zero field staff send their requests which were positively received and a decision to repair all the damaged stoves made.
One of the stove beneficiaries was quoted saying “…I have been so happy for the last four years I have had my improved CZK stove. And now that it’s cracked I request for it to be fixed as my life seems to be hitting a wall. I can’t imagine using a three stone stove a gain. Before I got the CZK stove I had to go to the forest every day, which is a 15-20km walk with all the heavy wood on my head. Now I only have to go to the forest twice a week. Who wouldn’t want that? That’s the life every woman would want to live.’’
Early this month we took time and assessed all stoves in the region- over 8000 stoves and identified about 300 stoves that needed quick action, of which we repaired and ensured that the owners are able to continue enjoying their services.
This has not only left the stove beneficiaries happy but as ensured that the stoves will continuously be utilized fully for the domestic cooking roles. The benefits associated with the stove usage will continuously be enjoyed by the stove owners. New members in the community are thirsty for the day they will also own the Carbon Zero stove.