Pauline Vialatte’s visit to Uganda

Following the recent partnership between Co2balance and EcoAct Group, a company that provides unique expertise in planning for and implementing positive change in response to climate and carbon challenges, we had the privilege of hosting their Consultant – Pauline Vialatte.

Pauline who was visiting Uganda for the very first time had the chance to visit the projects under VPA 74 in Northern Uganda to learn more about the borehole projects. The purpose of her visit was to gain more experience and understanding of the projects and its impacts/benefits to the communities. Under VPA 74, she was able to visit 8 boreholes and have community engagement with the beneficiaries.

During the community engagements, the water users shared the changes they have experienced since clean safe water was brought to the heart of the community. They spelt out benefits including but not limited to improved health, sanitation and hygiene, enough spare time to engage in other income generating activities, increased school enrollment for the girl child since they no longer have to travel long distances in search of water and wood fuel. They also gave testimonies of the different activities they have been able to engage in as a result of the time saved from collecting water from distant water points.

Pauline visited some of the old unsafe water sources that were being used by the communities before the rehabilitation of the boreholes.

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Pauline looks at one of the old water sources previously used by Anyonomac community

She was also able to visit different households and learn more about their adaptation to  climate change and scarcity of wood fuel. This included how they are moving from cooking using open three-stone fires to more improved methods.

At the end of her trip, Pauline received several gifts on behalf of EcoAct Group from the borehole users as a sign of great appreciation for her visit.

 

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Promoting Gender Equality in Uganda

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Members of a women’s business group collect water from a borehole in Lango sub-region

Projects under the Gold Standard, the principle body through which we verify carbon credits at CO2balance, are currently undergoing transition to a new methodology, Gold Standard for the Global Goals. Projects making this transition will be required to demonstrate the impacts they are having towards achieving some of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are delighted to announce that as this transition goes ahead, CO2balance has been approached by the Gold Standard to pilot the new guidelines for proving the gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness of projects.

Our projects to rehabilitate and maintain boreholes in Lango, Northern Uganda, are currently undergoing the transition to becoming fully gender-responsive projects. We have already gathered evidence of the positive impacts that the projects have for gender equality. It is well-documented that in Northern Uganda, as in rural areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of collecting water for household use falls disproportionately on women, who will often spend over 3 hours per day going back and forth to distant water sources. This prevents women from being able to engage in productive activities, such as learning and engaging in trades to generate income independently. Making long solo journeys to collect water also puts women at risk of danger, with widespread reports of assaults against women in rural areas.

Having collected findings on these trends before, we are well aware that our projects, in putting safe water sources in the very heart of the community, enable women to have time to engage in productive activities and allow them to avoid exposing themselves to danger. However, the challenge to date has been to quantify and verify the positive impacts of the projects in this area.

Being the first project to implement the new Gold Standard gender requirements, there will be a stakeholder meeting conducted in Lango to get community feedback on the status of gender relations in the area. This will be followed by a baseline survey which will give us a basis to monitor the impacts on gender relations of the projects in future. Although we are already aware of some of the indicators that are likely to arise through these studies, we are also very excited to potentially learn about new and wholly unexpected impacts of the projects. And of course, having quantitative data on the impacts of the projects will allow us to refine our activities and maximise positive impacts for both men and women.

This puts the projects at the cutting edge of the carbon projects field, as they will generate the first Gold Standard gender-certified credits. You can learn more about the guidelines and the pilot project in Uganda through article and the Gold Standard website. Watch this space to hear more about the progress of the projects over the next few weeks!

Growing Need for More Water

According to the Uganda Bureau of Standards, ‘Safe drinking water is water that is free from disease-causing organisms, toxic chemicals, color, smell, and unpleasant taste. In Uganda, safe drinking water is defined as water from a tap and piped water system, borehole, protected well or spring, rain water, or gravity flow schemes. Open water sources including ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, water holes, unprotected springs, shallow wells, and are considered unsafe water sources which if consumed without treating may cause various diseases’. UBOS

With all the above mentioned water sources, access to clean safe water continues to be a major challenge to the ever increasing population in Uganda. The rampant economic growth in Uganda has led to population increase which comes with high demands for provisions like water, health facilities, and infrastructure among others. Movements from rural areas to informal settlements around urban centers leaves the rural areas much neglected as all service provision is focused in the urban areas.

Otuke District in Northern Uganda is one of the areas that was severely affected by the civil war under the attack of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels which saw many people migrate to urban areas in search of safety and social amenities. After the war, the people started to slowly return to their homes but provision of social services still remained on a low.

As co2balance continuously expands its safe water projects in Northern Uganda, there continues to be a need a growing need for more water as many more people return to settle in their various villages.

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Joel Okello – District Water Officer, Otuke

According to the District Water Officer of Otuke, the area is still water stressed with so many villages having non-functional boreholes as a result of high costs of rehabilitating them. This leaves many people completely relying on unsafe water sources like open wells, swamps, water holes for their domestic water.

The District water coverage is 67.3%, with water source functionality increasing to 73% from 62% in 2014 before the intervention of co2balance. The number of villages without boreholes still stands at 141 though the total number of dysfunctional boreholes has reduced’, says Joel.

According to him, the partnership with co2balance has helped increase water source functionality to 73%. Co2balance partnered with Otuke District Local government in 2014 after a multi-stakeholders consultative meeting was held. Co2balance’s role was to provide clean safe water to the villages through rehabilitation of broken down boreholes. To date, a total of 45 boreholes have been successfully rehabilitated in the villages in Otuke.

Much as something has been done, access to clean safe water continues to be a growing challenge as many people still rely on unsafe sources like these below.

It was a great visit – Thank you Toshiba TEC, MediaCom, Mark Simpson and Paul Chiplen.

The Uganda projects have continued to register success in providing safe clean water to the communities through the rehabilitation and maintenance of boreholes hence reduced dependency on firewood to boil their drinking water. This has been made possible by the partnership and continuous support from companies like MediaCom and Toshiba TEC through its Toshiba CarbonZero scheme.

At the close of October, MediaCom and Toshiba TEC accompanied by Mark Simpson and Paul Chiplen traveled over 4000 miles to come and visit the Lango safe Water projects in Northern Uganda with the purpose of learning more about the projects and meeting the communities benefiting from the clean water from these boreholes.

They were able to visit a number of boreholes in the districts of Kole and Otuke – part of the Lango areas where the projects are. The community engagement was very positive as they were able to learn more on how these boreholes have impacted on the lives of the people. The beneficiaries/water users appreciated the companies for the continuous support through great entertainment and hospitality in form of singing, dancing and passing a direct vote of thanks.

In addition to visiting the boreholes, they were also able to visit Abari Primary school, one of the beneficiaries of the Lango Safe Water project and CSR projects that were enrolled last year to provide solar lighting and health sensitization to schools in some of the project areas.

The trip was concluded with a visit to the great Murchison Falls National park – pictures tell it all.

On behalf of co2balance, thank you MediaCom and Toshiba TEC for the continuous support.

Karibu tena!

Toshiba CarbonZero scheme: towards the SDGs in Kenya and Uganda

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!

Tom’s First Visit to Uganda – Our Eastern & Northern Trip

Since the beginning of our Uganda projects in 2013, co2balance with the help of its partner Organisation WAACHA in Kaliro District and Project Officers in the Lango sub-region have continuously worked with the communities right from rehabilitating hand-pumped boreholes to maintaining them annually and doing reactive repairs when need arises. This has been done hand in hand with the community who provide unskilled labor when required. They also use their borehole user fees to contribute towards minor repairs at the boreholes which has given them a sense of ownership of these projects.

On a recent visit to the projects, I was joined by our Carbon Projects Officer Tom Urry who was visiting Uganda for the very first time and also meeting the communities that are beneficiaries to the project. We visited some boreholes and also had a chance to engage with the community and get their feedback on the project.

During our visit in Kaliro, we had the privilege to be joined by a team from Climate Neutral Group who had a chance to meet the borehole users. committee and also interact with the users of Mwanga and Masuna boreholes.

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Tom (extreme left) & the team from Climate Neutral Group

Hightlights from our trip

Borehole visits

We visited a number of boreholes, met their water user committee members and had some community engagement sessions. From our interaction, we learnt that the communities were putting into practice all that they had learnt from the last Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training they received. They said that that much as they have learnt basic hygiene practices like washing hands after toilet use and before preparing and eating food, getting soap has continued to be a big challenge. Some afford it occasionally while for others, it doesn’t lead as a basic priority hence they do without it.

WASH

To address the challenge of difficulty in getting soap, as part of a WASH campaign, our partners WAACHA in Kaliro District decided to start training women groups attached to the boreholes in local soap making using plant materials and herbs. Apart from using this at home, they can also sell the soap and earn an extra income to meet other basic needs in their households.

With the training received from co2balance on basic hygiene in homes, the borehole users with the help of Village Health trainers have been able to improve on their sanitation facilities and also construct simple tippy taps near their toilets. This is to help cultivate the culture of washing hands after using the toilet.

Community engagement

In a bid to get the community involved in the projects, topping to the monthly monitoring visits, we were able to meet the communities, discuss their concerns and rising challenges and get their feedback on the project.

We were able to visit some of the old water sources that the borehole users entirely depended on before the boreholes were rehabilitated. This would prompt them to cut down more trees in order to get wood fuel for boiling their water but with this continued practice, wood became more scarce and expensive. This left some of them with no option but to take unsafe water hence getting waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, cholera among others.

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one of the unsafe water source used by the communities before the rehabs

With the government being one of our support systems in implementing these boreholes projects, we have continued to engage with them for the success of the project. Through the District Water officers and other local government staff, we are able to identify the boreholes to rehabilitate, monitor them, get household information among others.

We had the chance of paying a courtesy call to the sub-county offices at Omoro in Alebtong district which is home to many of our boreholes, with the latest addition being a solar pumped borehole rehabilitated recently to expand on the Lango Safe Water project.

On overall, the Kaliro and Lango sub-region borehole users are very happy with the projects and this is shown by their active involvement and prompt implementation of whatever recommendations they receive from the project officers’ monthly visits.

Rehabilitation of Omoro Sub-county Solar Powered Water Pump Scheme

In a continued drive to expand access to water in Northern Uganda, CO2balance recently repaired a solar powered borehole in Omoro sub-county that had been broken down for over 10 years. This borehole broke down at the peak of the insurgency caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Northern Uganda. This solar pump was estimated to be serving over 2,500 people at the time of its breakdown which caused a major water crisis in the sub-region.

A solar-powered pump runs on electricity generated by photo-voltaic panels or the radiated thermal energy available from collected sunlight as opposed to grid electricity or diesel-run water pumps. A submersible pump is used and this pushes water to the surface by converting rotary energy into kinetic energy then into pressure. Solar pumps are an energy efficient, environmentally friendly way to pump water for various uses from domestic consumption to supporting agriculture activities.

The community at Omoro sub-county have been heavily relying on unsafe water sources as a result of the high population putting great pressure on a limited supply of boreholes which have not been well maintained and have therefore broken down. They further suffered a big water crisis early this year as a result of drought in the region. A growing population, including families moving in from neighboring districts, has heightened the pressure on water resources in the area.

With this new safe water source, access to clean safe water has been increased and many households will benefit from it. The solar powered pump scheme has storage pump tanks of up to 32,000 litres of water, feeding 5 distribution points which will ensure constant supply of water to the people of Omoro. The pioneering technology will ensure that water from a single borehole reaches 5 distribution points throughout Omoro, limiting the distance that users have to travel to access safe water.

This is the first time that we at CO2balance have incorporated a solar borehole into our project activities, having always previously focused on hand-powered boreholes. We are very excited at the potential of introducing a technology that, using the power of the sun, will extend clean, safe water to 5 times as many individuals as would be possible with a hand pump. Watch this space for updates on this project and we hope to repair many more solar boreholes in years to come!

Part of the community at Omoro