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.
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.
Kereita forest forms the Southern part of greater Aberdare Range. The forest covers a total area of 4,722 hectares, with 80% being indigenous forest, 16% of exotic forest plantation mainly cypress and 4% grassland. Valleys and ridges are some of the characteristics that best describe the forest. This is a very serene and pristine area and is a designated birding site. It is very serene and pristine.
Kenya Forest service (KFS) is actively involved in forest management and conservation. It regulates forest resource use such as exotic tree management, grazing in the forest and wood collection.
For the last four years Carbon Zero has been implementing an improved cook stove project in this area with about 8,000 energy efficient cook stoves distributed to the local community members. Carbon Zero is proud for being part of the greater initiatives to conserve the forest and save it from anthropogenic activities i.e. deforestation for wood fuel. The project has led to immense reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and indoor air pollution in the project area and in Kenya as a whole considering that the majority of Kenya’s population (68%) is dependent on biomass as their primary source of energy for cooking.
Yesterday Carbon Zero team was delighted to host the Managing Director; Mark Simpson from UK in the project area doing random visits to check on the project beneficiaries. It was a nice experience meeting Carbon Zero cook stove beneficiaries and listening to them share their testimonies regarding the stove. All the visited beneficiaries were glad and praised the stove especially on its high level of efficiency and fuel consumption. Many indicated that Carbon Zero stoves use less wood thus loggers have less demand so less trees are being cut down. And over time this has increased vegetation cover in Kereita forest which was previously threatened by loggers for firewood as the demand of wood fuel remained high since people were using three stone open fires that consume more wood.
Some families indicated that typical stoves (three stone cook stoves) release clouds of toxic smoke into the home as there is no ‘chimney’ or exhaust tube something that Carbon Zero stoves have been of great help as they have drastically reduced particulates, which means that the families using them have better health.
As Carbon Zero the use of improved cook stoves has been on our top agenda in the campaign to reduce pressure on the existing natural forests. We pride contributing in saving one of Kenya’s natural water towers (the Aberdare Ranges) through 8000 energy efficient cook stoves distributed to the local community in the project area. For the past four years there is a traceable impact chain in wood harvest trends in this region. The use of Carbon Zero Stoves has greatly contributed to reduced wood harvest intervals therefore giving Kereita forest vegetation a chance to flourish. In addition economic and social benefits are realized as wood expenses are considerably reduced, not forgetting other risks that come with wood collecting like rape and violence on women and young girls.
Our Aberdares clean cook stove project in Kenya started in 2011, and now contains approximately 10,000 stoves. Since the arrival of the carbon zero stoves in Lari district, the beneficiaries have had time to experience the benefits and switched the majority of their cooking over to them.
We recently spoke to Mary Njoki a 65 year old woman from Bathi Village and a single mother of six children who have all married and moved in with their own families. She lives alone with her two grandchildren and manages a small farm to put meals on the table.
Mary says “the carbon zero stove has really helped me in saving time and money because before the introduction of carbon zero stoves in the area I used to spend much of my time visiting Kereita forest everyday collecting firewood which is about 3km from my home, spending like 5 hours in a day. But since I received the carbon zero stove, I only visit kereita forest once per week because the stove is more efficient as compared to 3-stone stoves. On the other hand before introduction of carbon zero stoves I used to spend kshs. 250 to purchase one bundle which could last for only three days but these days one bundle goes for two weeks with the same mode of cooking as before which means that I end up saving over Kshs.750 after two weeks”
She also added that ‘nowadays I spend much of my time and money these days to concentrate on my farming activities i.e. planting carrots, kales, potatoes, cabbages and pruning peas trees and also spending some of my money to educate my grandchildren’
She went on to say that, “I can testify that carbon zero stoves produce less soot/smoke as compared to 3-stone stoves which my neighbor Mama Grace uses everyday causing more problems on her family’s health”
On 11th and 12th of February 2014 co2balance Kenya held a rigorous training in the Nairobi office then proceeded to the field in Aberdare’s one of co2balance project areas for practical’s. The training was attended by the three regional coordinators and myself; the newly recruited PDC in Kenya. Lloyd a UK based project manager who is in Kenya currently attended the training too while at the same time playing a key role of coordinating the whole training process.
The training couldn’t have come at a better time as it enabled me as a person and the rest of the team to visualize things that seemed vague initially and gain deeper understanding about the whole project cycle and other project nitty gritties. The training provided a rear opportunity for the trainees to gain a diversity of essential theoretical skills regarding various project monitoring surveys in terms of when and how they should be conducted, validation process, verification, how to create and effectively use GPS maps, carrying out a water boiling test and many more.
We further took time in the field in one of co2balance project areas and had very informative practical lessons where the trainees were given an opportunity to put theory into practise with the guidance of the trainers. In the field we were joined by some of the education community liaison officers (ECLO’s). Seeing members of the team shed tears and some with their handkerchiefs blowing their running noses they developed after the kitchen got “smoked” by the three stone stove was a lifetime experience. It was indeed a great learning experience working with the team in a small village kitchen carrying out a comparative WBT on both three stone and CZK stove.
As away to measure impact of the training, trainees were asked to indicate their confidence in carrying out project tests and surveys and they all confirmed that their confidence had been increased. The regional coordinators and the ECLO’s who attended the training were tasked to go and train other staff on the project hence boost the technical knowhow of the whole Kenyan team in totality.
Good manners compel me on behalf of all trainees and the whole Kenyan team who will as a result benefit from this training thank the management of co2balance for having provided resources that were instrumental in facilitating this very important activity. Lloyd’s ability to coordinate the process remains commendable. I must also mention and thank the trainers (Jack and Teddy) too for their wonderful job.