In April I travelled to Kenya to visit three cookstove projects that we have in the counties of Meru, Mathira and Eldoret with the CarbonZero Kenya team. In addition, I also went to see two CSR projects that co2balance are implementing for a client in the Aberdare’s county which will involve the restoration of community dispensaries which provide consultancy and medicines for minor illnesses.
The two dispensaries included in the CSR project include Escarpment Dispensary and Mbau-Ini Dispensary. Both dispensaries receive an average of up to 30 patients a day and over 600 patients per month. They act as the first point of medical contact for local communities and treat common illnesses such as malaria, common flu and cold, skin conditions and provide vaccinations for children.
The restoration work for the clinics is very similar. Both will receive building repairs including new floors, painting of internal and external walls. Both will also have new latrines installed which will provide more hygienic toilets for visitors to the clinics and the staff.
Land around the two dispensaries will be reclaimed for productive purposes including growing vegetables and providing safe environment for children to play in the grounds. Fences around the dispensaries will be repaired to increase security for the stored medicines and to keep animals away.
I am excited to see the clinics once the restoration works are finished. It is surprising how some colourful paint and a neater outside area can completely change the look of a building and make it more welcoming for patients.
Escarpment Dispensary – land to be reclaimed
Escarpment Dispensary – base for new latrines
Escarpment Dispensary – construction works
Mbau-Ini Dispensary – floor to be refurbed
Mbau-Ini Dispensary – inside rooms to be repainted
Final Cookstove Project Verifications
While in Kenya we also visited three cookstove project areas in Meru, Mathira and Eldoret. It was interesting to see the contrast between the geographies of the areas and the different housing materials used.
Cookstove beneficiaries were very grateful for the stoves and a lot of the ones we saw were in excellent condition which is fantastic given some are more than 7 years old! People have really looked after the stoves and the main reason for this is that they use less wood fuel compared to traditional stove alternatives. Therefore maintaining the stove means that people spend less time collecting wood fuel for cooking.
In addition, the stoves are more efficient in transferring fuel to heat meaning they cook food faster which coincides with people’s lifestyles in the villages who make majority of their income from agriculture and are required to be out in their fields for a large part of the day.
Cookstove with user in Meru
To summarise, I would like to say a big thank you to the staff at the dispensaries who work hard to keep the local communities in good health and thanks to the cookstove beneficiaries who welcomed us into their homes and offered us delicious bananas. Furthermore, I would like to say a huge thank you to the CarbonZero team in Kenya who do fantastic work and who made the trip so enjoyable and provided the best company for my two weeks in Kenya.
Cooking is a very simple art but with far reaching effects to millions of people under the sun. It is estimated that globally more than three billion people currently rely on solid fuels. Most of this wood is collected from forests. Worst of all is that in Africa, burden of wood fuel collection still lies on women and girls who need to shoulder effects that come with it i.e. walking for long distances and exposure to many risks including; animal attacks, rape etc.
In the effort to liberate women and empower them while at the same mitigating Climate change and indoor air pollution in Kenya Carbon Zero Kenya has continued promoting the use of clean energy and improving community livelihoods. In the Mathira east project, the company continues to advocate and champion adoption of clean and energy efficient cook stoves not only to campaign against green house gas emissions but also improving the lives of the community both economically and socially. Notable features of the Carbon Zero stove is in its state- of –the- art construction technology which highly contributes to over 50 % energy saving by use of lesser fuel as well as lesser smoke emissions due a longer combustion chamber which allows for complete combustion of gases.
Margret Gathoni is an Elder in Thagana village in Mathira sub-county of the central region of Kenya, one of the Carbon Zero cook stove project areas. She has been with CZK team since the issuance of CZK ICS, through to education of beneficiaries .She liaised with other area leaders within her sub county and project officers to ensure the her community members take advantage of the project by getting rid of all three stone stoves in exchange of the improved cook stoves distributed in the area by Carbon Zero. In this locality, wood fuel is a scarce commodity and the cost has risen as more and more forests were being cleared for wood fuel.
Gathoni has been a key role model in her community through active mobilizing women to form Self Help Groups under the umbrella of Carbon Zero project, Mathira. In these groups, women are educated on the benefits that come by use of carbon zero stoves, and the importance of conserving our forests.
Gathini says that many women since acquiring the ICS have been freed, and rather than spend too much time in the forests looking for firewood they are now able to actively engage in income generating activities boosting their family’s revenues. She further says that most women have enough time to fully participate in other development activities and not just searchers of wood fuel as the case was before. And this has made women more productive. She says that many women in the area are now doing mixed farming, while others are in small businesses. She adds that this has empowered women as they are able to contribute towards the family needs as well unlike before when women could hardly do anything else since they would spend most of their time looking for wood fuel which wasted a lot of time impoverishing them and their families.
Projections for climate change indicate that it will increase the fuelwood-stress in the developing nations if not managed through technology i.e. increase adoption of ICS. With further reduction of forests for farming, urbanization and firewood the role for women as wood searchers is going to be more of an uphill battle. And for this reason Carbon Zero continues to work with rural communities in Kenya to help fight climate change and this social dimension challenge that affects engagement of women in development activities.
The Carbon Zero Kenya Aberdares ICS project started in the year 2011, with 10,200 stoves being distributed. Since then company invested in community awaress creation that so locals embrace the use the ICS thus moving from using 3-stone stoves (traditional stoves) to carbon zero improved cook stoves. Speaking to various stove beneficiaries the Carbon Zero ICS have led the community spending less of their time fetching firewood, visiting Kereita forest to collect firewood, spending less money on buying firewood but rather they spend much of their money and time doing other income generating activities improving their livelihood.
According to Mary Njoki 65 years, one of our stove beneficiaries from Bathi Village , a single mother of six children, the carbon zero stove has really helped her in saving time and money because before the introduction of carbon zero stoves in the area she used to spend much of her time visiting Kereita forest everyday collecting firewood which is about 3km from her place, spending like 5hrs in a day (she used to go at 7:00am and coming back at 11:00am when the sun is less hot) but since she received carbon zero stove, she only visits kereita forest once per week because the stove is more efficient and uses less firewood. She also added that the time she previously spent collecting firewood she nowadays uses it to concentrate with her farming activities i.e. planting carrots, kales, potatoes, cabbages and pruning peas trees and also spending some of her income from farming to educate her grandchildren.
Mary Njoki added to say that, “I can testify that carbon zero stoves produce less soot/smokes as compared to 3-stone stoves which her neighbor Mama Grace uses everyday causing more problems on her family’s health (flu, coughing and eye irritation), causing her iron sheets discolor easily since 3-stone stoves use more firewood which is also poorly burnt as compared to carbon zero stoves which uses 2-3 small pieces of wood producing less soot”.
From Mary’s opinion she can add that carbon zero stoves saves more on time, money and even school pupils they don’t spend much of their time on collecting firewood after school but rather they spend much of their time concentrating on their studies even in class because they don’t have to think about firewood collection since one bundle collected on Saturday can be used for long time.
With the support of Australian High Commission in Kenya in the 2015 Carbon Zero Kenya partnered with a women group (Umeme women group) in Western Kenya in Kisumu West to produce 900 cook stoves and sell them within the community. The women were empowered with skills in stove production and marketing.
The aim of the Umeme Women’s Group Improved Cook Stove Project was to set up a self sustaining cook stove enterprise that was to construct and sell stoves within the local community. The project created some source of income for the women and thus enabling them improve their living standards.
Just to offer some background an acute shortage of fuel for cooking is one of the many problems faced by people in Kisumu West as it is the case in other parts of the country. Gathering fuel is generally women’s work but is fraught with dangers; they gamble with the risk of rape and life threatening attacks during their search for much needed firewood, in order to feed their families. In certain areas, local sources of firewood are completely depleted, leading women to travel further and further afield or to dig up tree roots, eliminating any chance of the trees growing again. Even if women survive this, they are still exposing themselves and their children to potentially deadly smoke fumes.
With the above challenges in mind and the financial support from the Australian High Commission Carbon Zero decided to tackle the challenges in Kisumu West through the use of more fuel-efficient Carbon Zero Artisanal Stove, which is 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 their homes and their lungs.
Carbon Zero Kenya mapped out several women groups in the area; vetted them and settled on one that was most convincing – Umeme women group. The group of ten women was well trained both in theory and practicals of artisanal stove production. After which the women were supported to source for materials and stove parts and produced a total of 900 cook stoves that they marketed within their community. The revenues collected from the sales helped the women earn an extra income. In addition the women started making weekly savings into a central kitty that they have been able to invest overtime further raising their incomes which has in a big way boosted their living standards.
Diana is one of the women group members; the secretary of the group. Speaking to her she elaborates that prior to this project had always used the three stone cooker ever since she was born and had never seen an alternative cook stove. She says that previously she didn’t know how expensive it was sustaining a three stone stove. Knowing well that Kisumu West has fewer forests with most land under farming the only way to get firewood was and still is through buying. While using the three stone stove she says she used to buy wood worth 800/= Kenya shillings per week and this was too expensive for her.
However she says that her turning point came in 2015 when together with the other women were selected to be trained on how to manufacture artisanal stoves and market them within their community. Diana says that after they were trained as a group they produced a total of 900 stoves that they sold out to locals. She gained skills in stove production, maintenance and also simple business skills that have been very essential in her life thereafter. As a group under her leadership the proceeds from sale of stoves were put into a table banking revolving fund that members have overtime been borrowing and paying back with little interest. She says that many group members have borrowed money and paid school fees for their children, some have borrowed to start different businesses and as they pay back their revolving fund has been growing and today they have even increased their membership.
Diana explains how she borrowed from the group and started vegetable farming. The project has been on for the last two years and the returns are good. She is able to get an extra income to pay fees for her kids while at the same time get something to keep making contributions in the women group. She explains that since she did not have formal employment she couldn’t borrow from the bank hence the capital they got from the sales of the stoves helped inject capital into their group that has seen them grow both individually and as a group in ways she cannot explain.
She further explains that many women call her within the local community at times to repair their stoves when they have for instance cracks and they pay her helping earn her earn her income. She says today she her community as a stoves maintenance expert in the community. Within her own home Diana says that ever since she received the CZK stove she has seen a big difference in her life. For instance the improved cook stove saves wood fuel which enables her channel some of the money she would spend buying firewood to other development projects. As we part Diana says that for her the biggest thing out of the stove production enterprise set by Carbon Zero is that she was able to save and start a farming venture that has really improved her family’s income. She says that the project gave them power to improve their lives and turn around their fate.
2017 has been a historic year so far in the Toshiba CarbonZero scheme, which is based on a partnership between CO2balance and Toshiba TEC going back to 2009. Through this scheme, Toshiba TEC offsets the emissions caused by producing and distributing Multi-Function Printers. It does so by purchasing credits generated through CO2balance’s projects to promote fuel-efficient cookstoves in Kenya and to provide clean, safe drinking water to rural communities in Uganda. As we reported a few months ago, as of January 2017 the scheme is now officially supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Whilst measurable indicators have been submitted to the UN to demonstrate quantitatively how the scheme is advancing the SDGs, the progress at a human level has been best demonstrated by the case studies that have been published in each month of 2017. Two case studies have been released through the Toshiba website each month of the year so far. These real life stories show the profound human impacts of the scheme, with tangible improvements on the lives of individuals that go well beyond reducing CO2 emissions.
A particular highlight is the story of Christina Mashala in Kenya, who describes how receiving a fuel-efficient stove has greatly improved her family’s health by reducing their smoke inhalation. This prevents them from suffering constant respiratory illnesses and saves them large amounts of money that they previously spent on medicines. This story shows the contribution the Toshiba CarbonZero scheme has made towards achieving SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing).
Elsewhere, the story of Alex Ongora’s family in Uganda shows how access to safe water from the borehole in their community has saved them countless hours spent travelling far to collect water and saved them large amounts of money that they used to spend on medicine to treat diarrhoea. With the time and money saved, the family is now operating a successful business of growing and selling hot chillies, demonstrating the strides that have been taken in the scheme towards SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
These stories provide an inspirational insight into the many co-benefits of this pioneering scheme. You can see the full range of stories through the Toshiba website, and we’ll look forward to bringing you more stories in October, November and December – watch this space!
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.
Human life requires cooking, which means having access to fuel. 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.
For anyone who relies on an open fire to cook daily meals, the need for fuel rivals that for food itself. It’s common knowledge that almost everywhere on earth people cook, but that is not all, the question is yes you cook; but how do you do it? Are you using the traditional three stone stoves or an energy efficient stove? And do you know that the stove you use for cooking has an effect on your health, the environment and even beyond? According to recent estimates by the World Health Organization, up to 1.6 million women and children die every year from breathing polluted air in their homes. Respiratory and vision problems occur in mostly women and children because they spend significant time indoors tending to cooking fires.
Another critique with traditional wood fires is the 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. The increased demand for wood can further deplete the already stressed local natural environment.
Even worse is the fact that the burden of accessing firewood always fall on women and girls, as they are responsible for cooking family meals in most rural communities. This compels them to walk for long distances to find sufficient firewood to cook for their families. Firewood collection is at times incredibly dangerous, exposing them to the risk of physical and sexual violence. Sadly, every day, millions of women and children risk being raped, attacked either my human beings with ulterior motives or even animals as they collect firewood.
From the above photo Carbon Zero as one of the main environmental companies in Kenya is tackling these issues 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 their 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.