Sustainable communities in Eritrea

Both the cook stove and water projects continue to move forward in Eritrea as last month we initiated our stakeholder consultation for a new community safe water programme in Zoba Anseba. The meeting, held in the local hall, was well attended by representatives from all the surrounding villages and the feedback received truly showed that the importance of water resources is highly valued. The project will identify communities that don’t currently have access to improved water sources because of broken boreholes and rehabilitate them to good working order.

Though the meeting was led by our project partners to give details of the project and take feedback, we were pleased to see active discussion between village members about how to best preserve the pumps once they have been fixed. The importance of borehole maintenance and awareness of water resource management were both raised and will be part of project over its lifetime.

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The success of the cook stove project in Zoba Anseba has continued and recently completed its second verification under Gold Standard. The project funded the training and construction of more than 3,600 ‘Adhanet’ stoves in the district. Hugely popular in the region, the stoves have shown reductions in wood use of as much as 70% and over; a huge improvement making a significant impact on rural families.

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By embedding training on stove construction and borehole maintenance in to the programme, it strengthens the sustainability of the projects and furthers the sustainable livelihoods and sustainable communities across Eritrea.

 

Doing Firewood Maths

In our daily work at Carbon Zero we interact with community members using our improved cook stoves. And last week was no different. Our field staffs in Kisumu East were out in the community creating awareness on the usage of the improved stove. While in the field they met a lady by the name Emma Anyango one of the many Carbon Zero improved cook stoves beneficiaries in the area.  Speaking to her; she noted that that she is 33 years of age, married with three children.

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As we sort to understand from her if the CZK stove has had any impact on her life Emma narrated that ….”Initially, being a house wife, made me depend on my husband who is a water vendor, for financial support. The money he provided was not sufficient to cater for all our needs. He could hardly afford getting us basic needs.  Before receiving the improved cook stove from carbon zero Kenya, I used to use the three stone stove which used to consume a lot of fuel. The traditional stove was so wasteful, consuming a lot of fuel.’’

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She continued saying……’’ Our village is approximately 7kms from the nearest forest; hence the only way to get fuel is through purchasing in the market. The fuel prices are high and worst they also fluctuate during the rainy season making it difficult to save. I would buy 5 bundles a week which cost me ksh 1000/- and still add some more in the middle of the week and the amount of smoke emitted made me cough and my eyes watery making cooking a pitiable affair. I would spend a lot more taking my three kids to hospital as they were always coughing – respiratory diseases were just too much. Hospital bills were making me and my husband even more poor as time went by.’’

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Emma further stated that….’’being a beneficiary of the CZK stove changed my life completely. First, I got to interact with Christine Atira, a regional CZK staff in this area, she held my hand and taught me how to use the stove. She emphasized on climate change issues and the need to protect the environment by proper wood management. The CZK stove uses less fuel wood while retaining heat. Now I buy 2 bundles of wood which cost me kshs 400/= in a week thus saving KES 600/-, money I managed to save overtime and opened up a small shop selling general household items. This has helped us as a family increase our income. Now I no longer depend on my husband for everything, I support him in paying fees for our kids plus catering for other basic needs for our family. With the shop I can afford a decent meal for my kids who are now healthier and even perfuming better in school. All I can say is that let Carbon Zero continue with this initiative to reach out to many more families that are equally suffering. Cooking may sound like a non-issue in a household but it plays a key role in the overall survival of a family. To be sincere Carbon Zero made me a proud African woman. Now my kitchen is very clean and cooking has been made a wonderful experience.’’

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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.

Developing Leaders

On Tuesday the 25th March we welcomed Dr Ian Williams from CaplorHorizons into the CO2balance office in Taunton to provide leadership training to various members of the organisation. Amongst other things CaplorHorizons aims to inspire sustainability in business and communities as well as delivering training programmes that build remarkable teams. The session covered many areas and there was plenty to take on board as we thought about what makes an effective leader and how we might improve our own leadership styles.

Leadership Training

Successful roll out of stoves in Likoni

Stove

Over the past couple of months our field staff in Likoni, Kenya, have been on the ground distributing our new energy efficient improved cook stoves. These stoves are much more efficient and resource-friendly than traditional stoves or three-stone-fires.

The project received a number of positive responses from several women’s groups in Likoni. The adoption and sustained use of the new stoves will lead to improved livelihoods through improved health, time savings for households and other indirectly derived economic benefits.

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The stoves were purchased by the end users at a subsidized cost and the stove adoption rate was quite high. This was partly due to the scarcity of firewood and the rising cost of fuel wood in the area.

co2balance also provided training on how to use and maintain the new stove. This capacity building approach was essential for the success of the project. Money saved from using the improved cookstoves could used to cover immediate needs such as food, medicine and clothes. Time saved from not having to collect firewood and faster cooking times could be used for other household tasks, farming and other income-generating activities.

Team Building and Training in the Aberdares

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.

Team Training Day

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.

WBT Training

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.