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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The importance of clean cookstoves in delivering the SDGs

It’s easy to forget, while moaning about what to cook tonight, that the daily routine of simply turning a few dials on the oven, putting on the TV, and waiting for dinner to be ready, isn’t one that most people in the world can enjoy.

In fact, for over 38% of the world’s population everyday cooking comes with an inherent risk. Household air pollution from the use of inefficient stoves and the burning of unclean fuel for cooking is responsible for around 4 million deaths a year, with women and children most at risk [World Bank, 2018]. To put this into perspective, deaths related to household air pollution total more than the deaths related to malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined, making it the second-largest overall health risk for women and girls, and fifth largest health risk for men worldwide [WHO, 2016].

Universal clean cooking is a key component of SDG 7- access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. However, progress is currently not on track, with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies lagging furthest behind. In fact, the number of people that lack access to clean cooking has sat steady at 2.8 billion since 2000 (accounting for population growth), and according to current projections over 2.3 billion people will still use unsafe cooking solutions in 2030 [World Bank, 2018].

The truth of the matter is that access to clean cooking not only contributes to access to modern and clean energy (SDG 7) and improved health (SDG 3), but its impacts can be felt keenly in 10 out of the 17 global goals including gender equality (SDG 5), climate action (SDG 13) and the elimination of poverty (SDG 1). In other words- without a shift towards universal clean cooking solutions, achievement of most SDGs will also be affected.

The impacts on gender equality, in particular, are key to enabling inclusive progress towards the SDGs. The responsibility of collecting fuel, feeding stoves, and cooking falls disproportionately on women and girls- and therefore the associated risks do too. Without clean cooking solutions, women on average spend 1.4 hours collecting firewood, and 4 hours cooking each day, meaning that they have little time to take part in any other activities [IEA, 2017].

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Clean Cooking impacts on the SDGs
[Source: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves]

The solution? Recent meetings on the matter, such as the 2018 SE4All Conference, underlined the need for an inclusive, holistic approach involving multi-stakeholder collaboration, emphasising that the importance of a shift to clean cooking shouldn’t be overlooked. While there is no ‘silver bullet’ answer, it is also clear that women need to be at the centre of ensuring the shift is lasting and effective.

However, major barriers to progress still need to be overcome – including the upfront cost associated with improved cooking solutions, and delivering solutions in rural areas. Clean cookstove projects, like those implemented by Co2balance, therefore play a vital role in providing viable, affordable clean cooking solutions to those who are most at risk; ensuring sustainable finance for long-term progress; and are key to enabling the achievement of the SDGs.

A new beginning in Zimbabwe

Since Summer 2017, CO2balance has been exploring the possibility of starting a programme of borehole rehabilitation and maintenance in Zimbabwe. Almost a year after this research began, the idea is finally coming to fruition, with a partnership having been struck up with Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP). DOMCCP is an experienced local NGO with a strong track record of delivering poverty alleviation and HIV awareness projects in Manicaland, the easternmost province of Zimbabwe. As I write, the DOMCCP team are in the field in Manicaland making final preparations for the rehabilitation of 34 boreholes, an intervention that will bring safe water and alleviate the burden of waterborne disease for 2,500 households in the province.

I was recently privileged to be the first CO2balance staff member to travel to Zimbabwe to meet the DOMCCP team and visit the communities to be targeted through the programme. I was given a warm welcome by the DOMCCP team in Mutare city, where their head office is based, and then had the chance to spend a few days visiting rural districts of Manicaland including Mutare Rural, Nyanga and Chipinge. In all of these districts, the vast majority of boreholes which have been installed in recent decades are now not functioning, with Zimbabwe’s well-documented economic problems in recent years having contributed to the drying up of funding to maintain water infrastructure.

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Community members gather round a broken borehole in  Chipinge district

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A muddy pool used as a drinking water source in Chipinge district

Throughout these visits, I was struck not only by the warm and generous welcome of the community members that we visited, but also by the great need for the upcoming programme. For example, I met Ramwidzai Musimbi in Nyangani village, where the borehole has not been functional since it broke down over 4 years ago. In the absence of any alternative water source, Ramwidzai has been forced to walk 2 kilometres each way to collect water from the Savé River, meaning that she will typically spend 3 hours per day getting water for her household’s needs. The incidence of waterborne disease from the river is also very high, meaning in turn that Ramwidzai has to spend a further 3 hours per day collecting sufficient firewood in order to boil the water to make it safe. For people like Ramwidzai, the impact of having a safe water source just 200 metres from her front door cannot be emphasised enough. She will save at least 5 hours per day, be saved the backbreaking work of collecting water and firewood and have the opportunity to pursue business opportunities and spend time with her family.

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Ramwidzai Musimbi and her son with the fireplace and pot where they usually boil water to purify it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Henry Nyapokoto of DOMCCP with Tom by the Savé River

The other main event during my trip was the Local Stakeholder Consultation meeting, where key people who will be involved in the project from the government and communities were brought together to discuss the project and give their feedback. It was fascinating to be part of the meeting and to hear first hand about the impacts that stakeholders expect to see from the project. One of the most interesting contributions came from Tendani Sanikiwe, the facilitator of a club supporting people living with HIV (PLWHIV) in Manicaland. She spoke for several minutes about how members of the club are often excluded from discussions about the importance of safe water, but how access to safe water is crucial to PLWHIV due to their increased susceptibility to disease and need for safe water to ensure the efficacy of drugs. This was a great example of how the project will impact on communities beyond the impacts on climate change and health that we address through our current monitoring, and has the potential to bring great benefit to groups often marginalised.

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Participants pose for a photo after the LSC meeting

Overall, it was a privilege to be in Zimbabwe and to spend time with DOMCCP’s dedicated team. Thank you to them for the warm welcome and for the work in getting this exciting new programme off the ground. Zimbabwe is a country going through momentous change in its national politics, but whilst that happens the need for sustainable management of water sources at the community level is greater than ever, and we’re very excited to be at the forefront with DOMCCP. Watch this space for updates in the next few months!

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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Introducing Emma

Hello there! My name is Emma and I’m the newest addition to the co2balance team in Taunton, having joined as a Carbon Projects Officer 3 weeks ago.  I am extremely excited to join such a passionate and knowledgeable team working towards delivering impactful and community focused solutions to mitigate climate change. Thank you to the entire co2balance team -in the UK, Kenya, and Uganda- for giving me such a warm welcome!

I joined co2balance from 21st Century Leaders Foundation where I worked as a Project Consultant and Co-Ordinator developing a variety of projects in Mozambique, and raising funds for projects worldwide. My experience also includes 5 months working with GlobalGiving (a crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping non-profits access donors and training), where I carried out training, monitoring and evaluation, and outreach for their projects in Ecuador.

My journey into the world of developing emission-reducing international projects with co2balance began with an LLB in European Law and 2 years working in the legal sector. However, following my passion for international development and the global environmental issues, in 2016 I decided to complete an MSc in Environment and Development at the University of Edinburgh. My thesis centred around the community empowerment impacts of community owned micro renewable energy projects- which gave me really great insight into the wider social impacts that projects like those that co2balance implement can have!

Outside of work I‘d probably be found trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, on a hike in the countryside, or watching some live music!

I’m really looking forward to working on projects that not only have a significant impact in the global fight against climate change, but that also centre around the benefits to the local community and environment.

 

ED

At Quilotoa Crater Lake, Ecuador 

Empowering Rural Women; Challenges/Opportunities

Women empowerment leads to higher economic growth and a better quality of life for women and men alike.  Despite progress, it is still the case today that rural women’s double burden of farming, search for water and unpaid domestic work prevents them from participating fully and fairly in community development and income-generating activities. Improving rural women’s access to technologies that save time and labour is essential to reducing their workloads. Transforming gender relations within the family is also crucial to empowering women and enabling them to make decisions about their lives which affects their community at large.

So many times gender-biased social norms, laws and practices can also limit women’s access to essential assets including natural resources and education as well as social assets such as participation in rural organizations and other decision-making bodies like borehole resource committees. As a result, their ability to reach their full potential and influence decision is seriously undermined.

As Uganda today joins the world to celebrate the International Women’s Day under the theme ‘Empowering Rural Women; Challenges/Opportunities’, we look to appreciate the roles played by women in provision and maintenance of clean safe water to the community.

The borehole projects have given women the opportunity to participate actively in water resource management and decision making by allowing them access to each Water Resource Committee which encourages fair representation for both genders. It is a requirement that the 10-man committee should consist of at least 4 to 5 women to fill the gender gap. For long, rural women had been over shadowed and their roles limited to the household yet the activities they do, given the opportunity is a great game changer.

We visited Ilera borehole in Apala village, Kole District which is under the Lango Safe Water project area to speak to the women on their roles in the Water Resource Committee and this is what they had to say.

‘My name is Nestina Okoko Bosco aged 46 and a water user of Ilera borehole. I have a family of 10 members and live 300 meters away from the borehole. I was elected as the Vice chairperson of this borehole and given the roles of managing the borehole meetings, ensuring that the borehole is functioning well and the records are properly kept. I also sit in for the chairman in his absence during the monthly meetings and help decide on rising matters concerning the borehole’.

‘My name is Flo Ogwang, aged 35 and a member of the Ilera borehole Water User Committee. I am in charge of preventing children from playing with and around the borehole, maintaining hygiene around the borehole and any other matters that concern the source. I am happy with my roles because I get to participate in the borehole activities’.

‘I am Brenda Akullo and a mobilizer of the borehole committee. I am in charge of mobilizing people to clean the borehole, dig the trenches and soak pit, mend the fences and inform the water users about meetings. I also participate in the meetings and make suggestions to help improve on our borehole’.

‘My name is Dorcus Apio, aged 45 and a mother of 7 children. I am the treasurer of Ilera borehole and my roles are collecting water user fees, keeping records of the money collected and participating in the decision making process of how and when the money will be spent. I am also in charge of releasing funds for borehole activities like minor repairs and accounting for the funds in the treasury. I am grateful for this position because it has made me gain respect in society and in my household’.

‘My role as the caretaker of Ilera borehole is to make sure that the borehole is well fenced, the surrounding is clean by sweeping daily, ensure no animals access the source, make sure the people clean their water collection containers before accessing the borehole and supervise that the soak pit is well constructed’, says 35 year old Margaret Connie who lives 100 meters from the borehole. ‘I also control the use of the water source by regulating the time people are allowed to fetch water by opening and closing the borehole‘.

However, the men also have roles they play in the committee which are not limited to;

  1. Search for Strong poles for fencing and do the whole job of fencing the Borehole
  2. Settle disputes/grievance that always arise as a result of congestion at source
  3. Work with women generate water user fee and borehole management
  4. Facilitate water resource meetings
  5. Support pump mechanics and co2balance team in repair and maintenance of the Borehole in case of breakdown.

Gender-sensitive Local Stakeholder Consultation Meeting

On the 16th of January 2018, co2balance’s Lango Safe Water project carried out another Local Stakeholder Consultation meeting in Apala sub-county, Alebtong District. This was held to mark the launch of the Gender-sensitive Methodology as a requirement by Gold Standard.

This comes with the need for inclusion of gender-sensitive guidelines for the Lango projects in order to incorporate the monitoring of gender-based indicators into the borehole projects. This is meant to monitor the impacts of the projects on mainly women who for a long time have not taken center stage in borehole maintenance activities yet they are the primary collectors of water.  There are impacts such as women having to spend less time collecting water hence having the opportunity to engage in new livelihood projects that provide an extra income for their families. This new gender concept is a good opportunity to measure these impacts quantitatively and possibly improve the projects to enhance the positive impacts for men and women.

We were joined by the District Water Officer, the Chairman Water Board, Community Development officers, Women’s groups, local chiefs and village elders, water users from various boreholes and representatives from other Non-governmental Organizations.

A gender expert was invited to expound on the gender topic and explain its concept in detail, highlighting the need to first identify and understand gender gaps and why they exist in relation to the borehole projects.

The meeting was attended by over 70 participants from both genders who contributed greatly to the meeting by engaging with the moderators and presenters. The participants were divided into 3 groups namely youth below 35 years, women above 35 years and men above 35 years that held Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) about the various topics raised in the meeting. This was in a bid to enable all the groups discuss freely and express their views without prejudice.

The meeting took 3 hours with fair timing for all activities in the programme to be discussed satisfactorily. This also gave room for active participation from the audience that contributed greatly to the topic and had a question and answer session for further understanding. During the meeting, we were able to listen to different testimonies from the participants especially the women, giving their views on before and after the project implementation. A majority of the women who are primary collectors of water said that before the borehole was moved to the heart of the community, they faced lots of difficulty like traveling long unsafe distances to collect water, facing challenges like rape, assault and domestic violence because of the delay when collecting water.

Many of the women said they faced challenges of assault while collecting water from the open wells as there was no particular order of water collection at these sources. They explained that most times they and the children would be intimidated or even assaulted by the men who came to collect water at these sources and since they were not as strong as the men, they would be overpowered.

The women were happy about the sensitization at the meeting because even with the borehole close to them and some of them already being in the water resource committee, they were glad to know that it’s not just enough to be part of the committee but also to actively participate in borehole maintenance activities and decision making. They also believe that with the sensitization, they can have an equal footing with the men as far as order at the water source is concerned. They believe that there will be reduced cases of intimidation faced by the women, children and the youth.

The meeting was concluded with a round of collecting feedback from the participants about their view of the project and most of the participants loved the project and requested for more community engagement at borehole level and project expansion.