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.

Light in classroom

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!

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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

Cookstove LSC in Rwanda

On the 16th of September another successful Local Stakeholder Consultation took place in Gashora, Rwanda which marked the launch of a new cookstove projects in Bugasera sector. The projects will be implemented in the frame of a partnership between co2balance UK Ltd and Climate Corporation Emissions Trading GmbH, while the field activities will be facilitated by our in-country partner FAPDR with whom we have successfully worked together in previous projects.  The stakeholder consultation started at 10:00am and was attended by a high number of participants from six sectors of the district as well as by the representatives ofClimate Corporation Emissions Trading GmbH and co2balance UK Ltd. FAPDR took an active role in the moderation of the meeting which was held both in Kinyarwandan and English. After answering the questions from participants, the meeting was concluded with stove demonstration and the closing ceremony, following Gold Standard guidance. Please see some pictures  of the meeting below and stay tuned for updates about this new project. IMG_0520 IMG_0551 IMG_0543 IMG_0534 IMG_0518 IMG_0516

21,368 stoves distributed in Rwanda

Yesterday we had a meeting with our project partner Climate Corporation from Austria to discuss the progress of our projects in Rwanda. 2014 was a great year for our cookstove and borehole projects in Bugasera and Gatsibo districts in the province of Eastern Rwanda. By the end of this week we will have rolled out 21,368 improved cookstoves, reaching thousands of families who have now better cooking environment and save significant amount of time and wood already on a daily basis. The verification of the first VPA (GS 1267 “Bugasera Improved Cookstoves”) confirmed that our stoves save more than 3 tonnes of wood per year by each family. The warm welcome we received during our field trip in December and the positive user feedback about the stove efficiency reassured us that our project is welcomed and appreciated in the communities. Besides monitoring the existing cookstove projects to make sure that we are constantly in touch with the communities, in 2015 we are going to focus on the development of our borehole projects in Gatsibo. Stay tuned to this blog for further updates very soon!DSC_0155 DSC_0225 DSC_0228