Where are you going on your summer holidays?

The world-wide tourism industry is booming and worth over $7 trillion. It employs 10% of workers and brings in massive revenue for areas which may have little else. The industry is growing by 4% each year, driven by new wealth in emerging economies such as China, Brazil and Mexico.

brown hut island gazebo

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A study in Nature Climate Change found that tourism is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, much more than the 2.5-3% previously estimated. It found that the carbon footprint increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO2e between 2009 and 2013. The most significant contributor is transport, followed by shopping and food. As with most emissions, high-income countries are responsible for the majority of this footprint. Some small island nations, such as the Maldives and the Seychelles, generate a significant proportion of income through tourism, yet are among the most at risk from sea level rise and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The strong annual growth of tourism has surpassed efforts of the industry to decarbonise, but the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is upbeat about the momentum seen in “a growing number of hotels, airports and tour operators that have all become carbon neutral”. A great example of this is Cochin Airport in Kerala, India, the first ever fully solar powered airport.

photography of airplane during sunrise

Photo by Anugrah Lohiya on Pexels.com

Tourism also does possess a great power to benefit some aspects of the environment and help achieve other UN Global Goals. For example, the Gorilla trekking licences in Rwanda and Uganda which fund the conservation of mountain gorillas, and the alternative livelihoods provided to small hill-tribe communities in Thailand which drives economic develop in remote areas. However, eco-tourism still has a significant carbon footprint due to the flights involved.

So, what are the solutions?

One way to mitigate the carbon footprint from your summer holiday is to offset the emissions through CO2balance’s Gold Standard carbon credits. As well as reducing CO2 emissions by reducing or removing the combustion of firewood and charcoal, CO2balance’s projects positively impact the target communities and help achieve the UN Global Goals by providing safe water, improving health by reducing indoor air pollution and creating gender equality by reducing the time required to collect firewood. Use our Flight Calculator to see the CO2 footprint from your flight and take a look at our Projects page or Contact Us to see how you can reduce your carbon footprint, help fight climate change and make a positive impact on people’s lives.

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World Water Day 2018 – Impacts from WASH Projects in Rwanda

This World Water Day, there are still around 663 million people without access to clean drinking water sources, and over 2.4 billion people lacking access to basic sanitation services. Yet, access to clean drinking water and WASH facilities are at the core of ensuring health, education, and human and economic development.

Through the work we do at Co2Balance, we are committed to working towards the goals of clean water and sanitation access for all. The impacts that these can have, notably in creating effective and positive learning environments, can keenly be felt in our school WASH programmes, which have been carried out in 4 schools in Northern Uganda, and most recently in 4 schools in Rwanda.

In Gatsibo, a district in the northern part of Rwanda’s Eastern Province, low levels of infrastructure particularly impacted schools, most notably with a lack of electricity, lack of access WASH training, and a lack of government support to maintain school facilities. Along with our partner, Rwandans 4 Water, we have been working in Gatsibo to rehabilitate 63 boreholes to provide communities with vital clean water access, as well as working in 4 schools to rehabilitate school latrines, install 250 hand-washing points, provide WASH training, form WASH Clubs, and provide solar charging and lighting points.

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WASH Clubs, that promote and share WASH techniques and training with their school bodies, have been particularly successful. Each club now boasts more than 30 student members that organise events and performances related to WASH themes. We are now even looking at how we can expand the WASH Clubs nation-wide.

Anualite Murikatete, who leads the WASH club at Ntete Primary School expressed great satisfaction at the way in which pupils have taken on key WASH messages, noting they have taken on WASH approaches very well, particularly in regard to using the newly installed handwashing points.

Emmanuel Nyonzima, a P6C pupil at Gorora Primary School, was particularly enthusiastic about the new facilities and WASH Club in his school:

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 “We are very happy to see the facilities that are now in the school. Now the toilets are private and have platforms so you can go there without fear for the hygiene situation. We also now have handwashing points at the school. Thanks to this club which is doing a lot of demonstrations, all the pupils now know about the need to wash our hands after using the toilet, and we have facilities to do that.”

The rehabilitation of latrines and handwashing facilities have also created significant positive wider impacts in the schools, with Ruth Muhorakeye, the Deputy Head Teacher at Gogora Primary School saying:

“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.”

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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.

Handwashing point

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.

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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!

Successful Issuance – Rwandan Cookstove Project

It is never late to share good news: we have issued over 30,000 credits from our Rwandan cookstove projects last December! It was the second issuance for the GS1267 which was the our first project to be implemented in Rwanda. The cookstoves in that specific VPA have been operational since early 2014 and are still in use in the stove beneficiaries households. Fortunately in the past three years there was no need for stove reparation, only the replacement of the wood grates at few households, confirming the durability of the in-house designed improved cookstove.

Below are few pictures about the improved cookstoves from the most recent trip to Rwanda. More pictures from the field will come soon, stay tuned!

Training and Maintenance in Rwanda

As part of the continuous input mechanism, at Co2balance we closely monitor and regularly discuss the feedback of our stakeholders in the countries we operate. Following such discussions with our field team in Rwanda, we have come to the conclusion that currently there is an additional need for training on stove operations and replacement of certain parts of our stoves to ensure that they keep operating at the highest efficiency. Since the first stoves were introduced almost two years ago, stove maintenance and the training programme were encouraged by the Rwandan CDM DNA from REMA (Rwanda Environment Management Authority) as well. Co2balance has been working closely with the authorities to make sure that there is a high-level support of our cookstove projects in Bugasera District. We are proud that the necessary maintenance work was carried out by local manufacturers in the very same district where our stoves are placed and that the feedback about the training programmes have been very positive as well.

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The taste of clean water

When developing a borehole project, one might think that the hardest part is the physical rehabilitation and the siting of the boreholes. However there are many challenges which appear only in the second phase of the project, once the boreholes are providing safe water. We have met one of these challenges when some locals reported that the water from our freshly rehabilitated boreholes is salty and not palatable for few users in our Rwandan project. These feedback were unexpected because the water quality tests carried out by a recognized laboratory showed that all tested parameters are well within the acceptable range. What could have been the problem then?

According to our field team, locals have been drinking warm and dirty water from lakes and pond which might have tasted sweeter than the fresh and clean water coming from the boreholes. Our NGO partner reported about similar experience in other clean water project.

The laboratory has also confirmed that the underlying reason is that groundwater often has higher levels of dissolved solids than surface water because of its contact with aquifer geologic material and more time to dissolve rock and mineral materials. To explore the issue more in-depth, conductivity of the borehole water was tested, which is an indicator of the amount of dissolved salts and used to estimate the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) rather than measuring each dissolved constituent separately. This is an important parameter for drinking water because high TDS values may result in a ‘salty’ taste to the water.

All our TDS results for our rehabilitated boreholes have been well within the limit and range required in the “WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, Fourth Edition” and we found it important to share it also with our local borehole users. The issue has been incorporated into the WASH education and community sensitization programme to make sure that people are aware why the borehole water may taste “salty” after years of drinking surface water. The success of the WASH programme is confirmed by the field team and in-country partners but also by the usage survey which now shows 100% usage of the rehabilitated boreholes.

1st anniversary of rehabilitated boreholes in Rwanda

Next week will mark the anniversary of the rehabilitation of the first Rwandan boreholes in the frame of the successful partnership of co2balance and Climate Corporation Emission Tradning GmbH. The first 12 boreholes rehabilitated in Gatsibo district has been in operation for nearly a year and have been supplying fresh and clean water to the local communities. According to the monitoring studies conducted by our in-country partner Rwandans4Water, on average more than 500 people are served by one borehole, meaning that just the first 12 borehole provide clean water to 6,000 people. This is a great achievement in a sector, according to the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure (2010), the sustainable operation and management of rural water supply infrastructure is one of the key challenges with approximately one third of the existing infrastructure (about 850 rural water systems) needs rehabilitation. Please see the photos of few of those 12 borehole below and stay tuned for more good news from Gatsibo district, Rwanda.DSC_0116 DSC_0083 DSC_0110 DSC_0044