Repairing for better service….

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

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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.

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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.’’

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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.

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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.

Energy Conservation King

With new technology comes better ways of life. Human beings and energy are inseparable. How to sustainably utilize the various energy sources is still a 21st century challenge yet to be properly countered.

Among many rural households wood is the common energy source. It is utilized significantly for rural domestic cooking. In Kasighau division in Voi district this is not an exception. From the ancestors to the current occupants wood fuel as been greatly utilized for domestic cooking. Over the years there as been a rise of population in the division. This as been caused due to immigration in the area in for  people to exploit the different precious stones found within the locality. The rise in population can also be attributed to natural increase in birth rate among the local residents. As a result of increase in population there as been over exploitation of wood fuel. All the house holds initially  utilised the three stone traditional jiko. This stove is wood wasteful. During cooking a lot of wood was normally consumed with the stove. A lot of fire flames were normally lost since the jiko could not concentrate the flames to the cooking pot. This led to women spending a lot of time in cooking and collecting wood. Many are times when the children slept hungry because they could not wait for long hours while the dinner  was being prepared. They could be out won by sleep during the cooking process with the three stone traditional jiko.

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Their being a savior in every calamity the donation of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove (shown in the above picture) to the locals was really timely. The stoves were like an antidote that neutralized the wood crisis which had started to set pace in the area. Now there is all smiles in the face of the women in the locality. With the Carbon Zero stove the women now utilize less time for cooking  since the carbon Zero stove  concentrates the fire flames to the cooking pot and retains heat within it for a long period. The amount of wood also utilized by the stove is far less compared with the traditional three stove jiko. Since they require little wood cooking with the modern Carbon Zero stove the women in the locality utilize significantly less time for collecting it.

Not only is the stove user friendly but it is also environmental friendly. Over the years that the stove as been in utilization the locals have realized an increase in tree cover in the area. Apart from community sensitization on the need for adopting afforestation programmes in the locality this can also be highly attributed to adoption of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove for all day to day cooking. The area categorized as an ASAL area is now being endowed with a vast trees cover. Thanks to the conservation King, Carbon Zero stove.

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Rains which were not common in the past now are occasionally experienced in Kasighau. This has greatly been influenced by an increase in tree cover in the locality making the environment a bit green something that was not there five years ago.

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 Compiled by Kenneth Mukuru, Moses Nyaga and Moses Maina

Issuance of Msambweni, Kenya ICS project

CO2balance celebrated another milestone last week as we issued another of our Kenyan Improved Cook Stove projects under the Gold Standard. Situated in the coastal region of Kenya, the beautiful beaches are a popular tourist destination but local populations are still reliant on wood fuel and traditional three-stone fires for cooking. Over the past years we have monitored how our stoves have been helping to reduce the use of firewood leading to economic and health benefits for local people as well as lowering carbon emissions.

Since 1990 Kenya has lost on average 0.32% forest cover per year and though that does not sound very significant, it equates to more than 250,000 ha. This burden has fallen disproportionately on the coastal region of Kenya where fewer tree cover gains have been observed and our project is one that is helping to combat this decline. Biomass energy has hovered around 70% of total energy requirements for Kenya and seen little reduction in 40 years. 90% of this demand comes from the domestic sector and by providing more efficient cooking stoves, we can help to reduce the total demand for energy and therefore, wood, leading to multiple benefits for local people and the local environment.

International Day of Forests 2016

Today is the International Day of Forests 2016 and a good time to take note of the importance of forested land (the ‘lungs of the planet’) that covers almost one third of land area of our planet. In our projects and many others, a strong focus is put on the role of forests as a form of carbon storage to counter the increasing anthropogenic carbon emissions, however forest ecosystems provide a variety of other ‘services’ that often go unobserved or unaccounted for.

It is estimated that forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. As well as being important themselves in creating biologically diverse plant ecosystems, they provide a vital habitat to a vast array of animals, many of which are not yet known to science. For humans, this can provide food, medicinal resources and raw wood/plant products for fuel and building materials. Additionally, grazing occurs within forests and local populations often grow rotational crops on temporary plots of land with the forest providing cover and protection.

Forests also play a key role in the hydrological cycle. By stabilising the soil with root structures, slowing the percolation and reducing the total water flow, forests lessen the impact of flooding and erosion, benefitting people far beyond the forest margins. This process greatly increases the water purity through filtration and preserves soil quality across the landscape; improving crop yields and the health of populations that rely on surface water for drinking and washing.

One ‘service’ that is often less considered is the cultural importance. Forests often come to define landscapes and, though it may contribute to the tourism industry, the aesthetics and beauty that they offer is something that cannot be quantified. Places where nature is untainted often carries a spiritual importance, not least for indigenous populations, therefore any destruction of these areas undermines this historical knowledge.

The benefits that humans derive from forests should not be understated; as well as providing a home to hundreds of millions of people, almost a quarter of the global population depend on forests for their livelihood. When considering the vast array of ‘ecosystem services’ that forests provide for humans, the number is probably far greater than that. Every year an area of forest the size of England is lost but, more and more, these benefits are being recognised and celebrated. Today in particular we can try to raise this awareness and encourage the sustainable use of these resources so that they might provide the same benefits to future generations.

Carbon Counting

Since the Paris agreement was reached and political leaders across the world signalled their ambition and direction for the path ahead, it has become increasingly apparent that there is a huge need for ‘carbon accountants’. Now, the title ‘accountant’ doesn’t often inspire great aspirations but this is a different breed of accountant with a very different remit. In a world where companies now account for their carbon debits as well as their financial bottom line and countries have made ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ of how they intend to reduce emissions, there is a need to monitor, verify and report on carbon emissions and for those with the expertise to do so.

The job of calculating carbon emissions is not a simple one; an improved cook stove for example, may use less wood when cooking than an open fire but people may also use fuels other than wood, may use more wood during different seasons or still use an open fire to heat the family home; calculating how all this affects potential emission reductions from a new stove can be complicated.

At CO2balance, we have developed a breadth of expertise in precisely this area and have developed several climate mitigation projects that support some of the poorest communities in developing countries as well as helping to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We have also worked with hundreds of companies around the world to calculate, verify and make savings on their carbon footprints. We support the agreement reached in Paris and will continue to build on this strong foundation.

We have recently advertised a new position for the role of Carbon Projects Officer in search of applicants to join our team whom we can share expertise with. The call for applications closes at 17:00 today and we look forward to bringing in a new member to our team who can contribute to our work at an exciting time when ‘carbon counters’ are becomingly increasingly essential for a carbon-free future.

Fairtrade Climate Standard Approved

A small but important announcement was made late last year as world leaders debated the way forward on climate legislation at COP 21 – the Fairtrade Climate Standard was released.  This new venture – in partnership with the Gold Standard Foundation – aims to further utilise carbon offset projects to increase skills, knowledge and financial flows to producer communities in countries in the Global South.  As one of the most trusted brands in Britain, Fairtrade have not taken their decision to enter a new market lightly and the key driver behind their involvement is the inherently unfair nature of climate change.

Hand on heart, most of us recognise that climate change is largely a problem caused by the developed world, however it is not common knowledge that a cruel climatic irony is at play.  The majority of people in developing countries are small scale producers or smallholders dependent on crops and livestock as both a means of subsistence and income.  These people are therefore the most vulnerable to weather extremes in a changing climate, but are also the people that have made little – if any – contribution to the cause of it.   A staggering 80% of the world’s food is produced on land less than 2 hectares in size – when you consider that most of this is vulnerable to a changing climate, the scale of the challenge makes Fairtrade’s intervention understandable and very welcome.

I have just returned from Bonn where I attended a workshop at Fairtrade’s HQ on the key operating procedures defined in the newly published standard.  Just like Fairtrade bananas and coffee, I learned that a key feature of a Fairtrade offset is that a so-called Fairtrade premium must be paid to the producers (not developers) of the carbon credit.  (In a cookstove project, this is the people who have swapped their 3 stone fire for an improved cookstove.)   This premium must then put to use for the collective good of the producers in the way that has been democratically decided by that group to be most appropriate for their needs.  In a traditional Fairtrade supply chain, this premium is typically used to invest in improved processing techniques, organic fertilisers or similar things that will add value or improve working practices.  A Fairtrade carbon offset is different; the premium must be invested in climate adaptation activities – thus enabling and empowering producers to prepare for a changing climate.  Project Facilitators, like co2balance, will assist producer groups by transferring knowledge about climate adaptation practices (such as improved irrigation practices or water storage) to deliver extra impact within the offset project.  Now that the Fairtrade standard has been approved after exhaustive revisions, the rest of 2016 will see it being trialled by around 20 projects, including one of our own.   We are very excited about what it can bring to the carbon market and shall continue to keep helping shape its development.

 

 

Going beyond carbon saving – how companies like Hill Dickinson are making a big impact to communities in Kenya

Our Abardares Improved Cook Stove Project is located to the north of Nairobi in Kenya, and has been well supported for many years by Hill Dickinson – the first law firm to offset their carbon footprint to become CarbonZero.

Our team in Kenya went to visit the region and interviewed over 30 Carbon Zero Kenya stove beneficiaries as part of the annual site visit. One family in particular made a lasting impression on the team, as they introduced their 103 year old grandmother. Still in excellent health, she was eager to explain how the stove had improved her wellbeing, mentioning that because it is more efficient than a traditional three stone fire, she did not have to spend as much time collecting wood.  Furthermore, she gave us a full demonstration of the way she likes to stoke the stove while cooking Ugali, a local staple food made from ground maize.

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This is one of many great examples of how organisations like Hill Dickinson have made such an impression, not only to the environment, but to the locally communities throughout Kenya.

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Kaptagat Case Study: A safer & cleaner way of cooking

Community involvement is an important part of the way we work, and our Kenya Team are often visiting the villages and towns where run our projects to talk to families about their new stoves.  Recently, Virginia Njeri, one of our Regional Coordinators visited our stove project in Kaptagat and spoke to Mrs. Sharon Kibor, here is her story:

In Flax Centre of Marichor location in Kaptagat hails Mrs. Sharon Kibor. She lives with her husband and their two children.

Mrs Kibor is a farmer and is a beneficiary of a cook stove from Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd. Having used the cook stove for two years, she was delighted to narrate her experience to us.

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In her own words she says,”It is a personal testimony; I adore the stove not because you are here, but because I have tasted the good of its benefits. Earlier on, I used my traditional chepkube which consumed a lot of wood; the smoke choked my child who also developed an eyes ailment. I never thought of an alternative until I acquired the Carbon Zero Stove.

“I now have no worry staying with my child in the kitchen while cooking since the stove does not produce as much smoke. I also have time for my business and this has helped me join merry-go-rounds to increase on my savings. Serving my family a good meal prepared in a smoke free environment lights up my day. That’s the joy of every woman who loves and cares for her family.”

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Mrs Kibor is therefore grateful to Carbon Zero Kenya and CO2balance for helping conserve the environment through availing the energy efficient cook stoves which has helped improve life in her community.

Many thanks goes to Virginia Njeri in telling us this story and for Mrs. Sharon Kibor for her time providing us with this feedback about the project.

 

Beyond carbon offsetting – the additional benefits of impact carbon

Offsetting one tonne of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to research published today.

The research, carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), demonstrates how purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.

The amount of carbon reduced by such projects has been rigorously measured and independently verified for many years, but to date there has not been academic research conducted to measure and value the impact of investing in carbon offset programmes beyond reducing emissions. This research finds that each tonne of carbon reduced has additional benefits – such as poverty alleviation, infrastructure development and nature conservation – worth  $664, meaning that businesses which are voluntarily offsetting their emissions are having a bigger impact than perceived.

Projects such as CO2balance's Improved Cook Stoves, provide social and health benefits as well as carbon saving.

Projects such as CO2balance’s Improved Cook Stoves in Kenya and Rwanda, provide social and health benefits as well as carbon saving.

The findings of the study also demonstrate that businesses with offsetting programmes report corporate benefits such as enhanced brand image, engaged employees and market differentiation.

“The voluntary carbon market is a smart opportunity for businesses to consider as part of their sustainability strategies,” says ICROA Programme Director, Sophy Greenhalgh. “This research demonstrates offset programmes deliver numerous business objectives, such as employee engagement and resource efficiency savings, and make a positive contribution to local communities in addition to reducing emissions.”

“By utilising latest natural capital accounting methodologies, we have been able to demonstrate the impact offset projects are delivering on the ground,” says Yiannis Kountouris, an environmental economist at Imperial College.

Better identification and measurement of the extra social benefits of buying carbon credits could encourage more governments, companies and individuals to invest in projects that make a real difference to communities around the world, whilst reducing dangerous carbon emissions, finds the report.   To download a copy of the report please follow this link on the ICROA website

The stove and borehole projects that we run in Africa are a perfect example of going beyond carbon saving, providing quantifiable impacts to the community – please contact us for more information about how you and your company can make these impacts.

 

Case Study Long Term Commitment & Making a Positive Contribution

Refreshment Systems are a CarbonZero business.

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Refreshment Systems Ltd is based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The business was formed in 1968 and now employs over 100 people supplying and servicing a wide range of vending and catering equipment and associated supplies and services.

The organisation recognized that safeguarding the environment and providing help to less fortunate communities was something that was not only important to them as a business and individuals, but important to their customers too.

 

Since 2008 Refreshment Systems have been auditing their carbon footprint on an annual basis, instigating reduction strategies and offsetting their residual carbon emissions by supporting the co2balance Gold Standard African Energy Efficient Stove projects based in Kenya.

Commenting on the reactions from customers to the proactive stance Refreshment Systems have taken, Steve Wright, Service Manager states “The feedback we have had has been very positive and supportive, particularly as we are one of the first’ vending companies who have embraced this initiative.”

Creating positive feedback from customers is a primary aim for many businesses that choose to support environmental and social initiatives. However equally important is the reaction from the business employees. There is plenty of evidence to support the assertion that people like to work for a business that “does well, by doing good.”

Sales Director for Refreshment Systems Paul Shaw’s comments would support this, ”our staff are exceptionally pleased to be involved is such a creative program which not only benefits many people but ethically is the ‘right thing’ to do as a company.” For a company to provide funding to a project that supports some of the poorest communities in the world, as well as reducing global carbon emissions and protecting local resources is highly commendable in itself. It’s important for us at co2balance for our customers to really understand the impact their help can have. We are always delighted when a customer takes us up on the opportunity to see firsthand how our projects impact the community.

In February 2012 Steve Wright from Refreshment Systems, joined our client trip to Kenya to visit our stove projects in the field and see where their  funding has made a difference to people lives.  “Visiting Kenya with co2balance was both a very humbling and rewarding trip in equal measure. Seeing firsthand the level of poverty that  the villagers live with on a daily basis was quite an eye-opener to say the least, I certainly was not prepared for that kind of a reality check. The difference Refreshment Systems is making to the lives of these people is just unbelievable. With a relatively small amount of input from ourselves, the impact is massive and that is reflected in the welcome that we received during our visit. The people have absolutely nothing, and yet are so friendly and so grateful for the stoves which we have provided for them. We can see clearly that the stoves are a massive benefit to the health and general well being of the villagers – something we take for granted in our relatively comfortable world. The trip is something that  I will remember for a very long time and take a lot of pleasure and pride in being part of such a fantastic project, long may it continue”.

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Carbon offsetting can get a mixed reaction in some quarters. However a properly managed Gold Standard project, delivers far more than a simple carbon reduction. The social, economic and health benefits delivered by the co2balance Gold Standard energy efficient stoves project is a great example of that. The funding provided by organisations such as Refreshment Systems Ltd. makes these inspiring projects possible.

 

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