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.

An Introduction

Hello all. I am James, a new Carbon Projects Officer at co2balance in the Taunton office. I started working here three weeks ago, and so far it has been very enjoyable and I am learning a lot about the Gold Standard and carbon financing. Thank you to the whole team, in the UK, Uganda and Kenya, who have all been very welcoming.

In late 2017 I finished my MSc in environmental management at the University of the West of England, where I focused on water and sanitation in developing countries and worked closely with the International Water Security Network. For my thesis I conducted primary social research in Kisoro, Uganda. This was the first field trial outside the UK of “Pee-power”, a Gates Foundation funded system that creates electricity from organic matter in urine, which we installed in an all girls boarding school. As well as conducting surveys and focus groups with the students, I worked with the Diocese’s WatSan department to survey ferro-cement rainwater harvesting tanks. After this I worked on an elephant reintroduction project in northern Thailand, where I took volunteers on treks to collect data on elephants that previously worked in logging or tourist camps.

Prior to this I studied law for my undergraduate and worked in the finance industry in foreign exchange and operational risk. However, my love for field work and international development inspired me to change my career. Since then I have worked on conservation and community projects in India, Uganda, England and Thailand.

Outside of work I enjoy trail running, football, trekking and climbing. In September 2018 I am competing in my first ultra-marathon on Ben Nevis, Scotland.

I am really excited to be part of the team at co2balance, and look forward to developing carbon offsetting projects that benefit the lives of local communities, the local environment and the global climate.

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Here I am with some friends having climbed Mount Muhabura in Kisoro, Uganda.

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.

 

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!