The climatic extremes of prolonged drought and frequent flooding are major challenges Malawi. A large part of the population relies on agriculture and is prone to be directly affected by the natural environment.
One major environmental and economic issue is energy scarcity: In the absence of electricity and alternative fuel sources, trees are commonly used as biomass, causing widespread deforestation. This in turn reduces the water absorption capacity of the soil, facilitates erosion and further aggravates flooding. Flooding and droughts have been estimated to cost Malawi 1.7% of its GDP annually. 
Other issues are water and food security, both of which affect the livelihoods and wellbeing of the poorest populations. While 46% of Malawi’s land is arable, only 2% is irrigated. Farmers rely heavenly on rainfall and hence mostly grow crops during the rainy season. Hence, they sell their crops to the market at times when supply is abundant and prices are low.
Small scale irrigation agriculture can augment and change this production cycle and enable the production of crops during the dry season. Low-cost and durable irrigation products include pedal-powered or solar irrigation pumps that transport water from an open well, rover or lake to the field via a spray hose. They enable to spread the harvest of crops throughout the year and provide an opportunity to raise farmer’s income, as less produce is lost and prices in the dry season are higher.
Irrigation has been shown to have a positive impact on farmer’s food security by increasing both calorific intake and income, thus playing an important role in alleviating poverty. These benefits are shared by marginalised groups such as youth headed or female headed households 
CO2balance and its partners have been working in Malawi since 2013 and are expanding their activities in the central region to address needs on a community and district level. We are currently exploring effective options of supporting the adoption of solar-powered irrigation technologies. Get in touch, if you are interested in this area.
 Pauw and Thurlow 2009
 Nkhata 2014
Cooking on a three stone stove is the cheapest way to prepare food in many parts of the world. This is because to assemble a three stone stove you only require three suitable stones of the same height on which a cooking pot is balanced over a fire. That’s how cheap the stove is. This make many families across the word especially in Africa fall for them.
Ok cheap is expensive, many say so and indeed even in the cooking sector this turns out to be true. The seemingly cheap stove on the contrary has many problems:
- The inefficient transfer of energy requires the user to use more wood fuel, increasing the amount of wood harvested from the surrounding environment. The increased demand for wood can further deplete the already stressed local natural environment.
- Smoke is vented into the home, instead of outdoors, causing health problems.
- Only one cooking pot can be used at a time.
- The use of an open fire creates a risk of burns and scalds. Especially when the stove is used indoors, cramped conditions make adults and particularly children susceptible to falling or stepping into the fire and receiving burns.
The World Health Organization has documented a significant number of deaths caused by smoke from home fires. The negative impacts of such a process of cooking can be reduced by using improved cook stoves.
In Kaptagat in the vast Rift Valley Region of Kenya we visit one of the Co2balance improved cook stove beneficiaries Alice Kiplimo who tells us “Tangu nipewe hii jiko nimefurahia sana kwa sababu inafanya kazi harakana inatumia kuni chache(since I was given this stove five years ago it cooks faster and also consumes less wood”. She adds that because of its efficiency on wood usage it saves her time and in that she is able to do other activities that are incomes generating promoting the living standards of her family. For instance the time she would use going to collect firewood in the forest she tends her small piece of land with passion fruits that when ripe gives her up to 200/- per kilo, and she makes up to 15 – 20 kilos per week.
In her explanation she manages to clearly exhibit how the improved Co2balance stove has not only helped her change her cooking conditions but how the stove has changed her life as a whole. She says that before receiving the improved cook stove from Co2balance she used to use a three stove which consumed excess wood not allowing her have any extra time for any other activity; she basically would spend all her free time in the forest looking for firewood. However after getting the Co2balance improved cook stove which uses less fuel she has had many benefits; reduce wood fuel consumption by almost a half, improved health – more coughing like before, less time spent searching for wood etc. She explains how the improved stove has freed her allowing her function fully being her family’s bread-winner being able to invest in her farm planting passion fruits and having time to manage the fruits well. And as a single mother of two this has helped get earn an income which is helping her sustain her family.
With this living story it’s now possible to see the bigger picture and realize that improved cook stoves are not just for cooking. They change lives beyond cooking.
Over the years Co2balance has been a front runner in improving access to affordable and reliable energy services for cooking in developing countries. And it’s on this basis that it has invested in over 67,000 improved cook stoves distributed across Kenya and still seeks to partner with like minded organizations to reach many more families which are still in dire need for an improved cook stove because it understands that it’s not just about cooking.
For the people of Abongodyang village, this Easter season was special and extra ordinary as it came with it the best ‘Easter Egg’ in form of a newly drilled borehole by co2balance – a gift of clean safe water.
Drilling in progress
Apron and drainage casting
Installation in progress
The village of Abongodyang which has a population of about 320 people who until the drilling of the borehole had been using unsafe water sources like open wells, ponds, swamps, among others were very excited about their new water source which is not only clean and safe but has a good yield and is close to their homes.
Previous water source
Dried up open well
After doing a thorough hydro-geological survey, a suitable site was picked to ensure the borehole had a high sustainable yield and good water quality. This was followed by site clearance which the community actively participated to strengthen their community engagement and partnership with co2balance in the continuous maintenance of this borehole after drilling.
The community has now pledged to look after the borehole and ensure that it is always clean and safe from any contamination that may be harmful to their health. They have also agreed to contribute the water user fees that that was set as a government policy to ensure that the communities are able to maintain the source using the money collected from all households.
Drilling of this borehole has not only increased the safe water coverage in Otuke district but also ensured that so many waterborne diseases are avoided by consuming unsafe water. This also means that the wood fuel that goes into purifying this water significantly drops.
They say…….. ‘THANK YOU’
“Water is life”. This is commonly what we hear when working together with communities across the globe, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, in recognition that water is the essential building block for the living world. More than that, it is key to every aspect of human development, from the economy to a child’s education.
Today is World Water Day, where we focus on the importance of water as a resource and consider the progress that is needed to provide clean, safe water to everyone. Today, a quarter of the population of the world will drink from a water source that is contaminated, putting them at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.
The UN have developed their 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals with the aim to provide access to safe water to all. At CO2balance, we continue to work towards these goals by rehabilitating village hand pumps and providing education on sanitation and health in rural communities. Below is a summary of some of the key impacts of our projects:
In my last blog, I mentioned that our Rwanda cookstove and borehole projects had been selected by the Gold Standard to be part of a new video showcasing the multiple sustainable development benefits of Gold Standard certified projects. It is with great pleasure that we share with you a few photos from Gold Standard’s visit to our improved cookstoves project in February.
We had the pleasure to meet with two families in Ngeruka sector, who kindly received us and shared their experience with our improved cookstove. Both families explained how the stove helped them save money by reducing their need for woodfuel and how the significant smoke level reduction positively impacted their health. They also described the growing interest in acquiring stoves in the community due to their multiple benefits.
Below are a few photos of the visit.
It is always a pleasure to meet with the beneficiaries of our projects and see the impacts of the stoves on the communities. We look forward to seeing the final video and sharing it on the blog soon!
As the world commemorates the International Women’s Day, the women of Corner Apii and Telela Apala villages in Kole district, Northern Uganda surely have a reason to celebrate this day. Corner Apii borehole was drilled by the government and shortly broke down leaving the community of over 800 people with no option but to turn to an open spring that they shared with animals. This was constantly contaminated by animal waste and caused waterborne diseases to them like typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea among others.
The women of Corner Apii village suffered most due to the breakdown of this borehole. They had to use unsafe sources of water as the alternative borehole was far and inaccessible. This made them less productive as they had to not only collect water but also look for firewood to purify the water for drinking.
Old water source at Corner Apii
Broken down Corner Apii borehole before repair
After an 8 months breakdown, CO2balance has helped rehabilitate this borehole today and given hope for clean safe water to the Corner Apii and Apala Telela community once more.
Newly rehabilitated Corner Apii borehole
Beatrice, Sandra and Judith at the borehole
‘I had a small business that generated some extra income for my family but I closed it because I did not have enough time to manage it. I had to farm in the morning and later do house chores before going in search of water and firewood. This left me tired and with no time to tend to my shop…..’ narrates 67 year old Beatrice Alyango who lives half a kilometer from the newly repaired borehole.
With the repair of the borehole, she hopes to re-open her shop as she will now have enough time to tend to it.
45 year old Santa Ocen, married with 10 Children who lives half a kilometer from the borehole celebrates the new water source. When the borehole broke down, she constantly worried about her little girls traveling for long distances unaccompanied in search of water and firewood. The same water collected was not clean and they ended up sick and missing school. She is confident that cases of diseases will now be a thing of the past as she totally trusts borehole water.
Judith Okello aged 35, a mother to 4 children is also happy that this borehole was repaired because it is going to sort out the issue of domestic violence in homes.
‘Husbands would always beat up their wives if they delayed to return home from fetching water. They would accuse their wives of meeting up with other men while fetching water from these far off wells hence the delay. The women’s pleas fell on deaf ears and this trend would continue because the women had to collect water everyday….’ narrates Judith Okello.
Corner Apii is just one out of the 20 newly rehabilitated boreholes in 2017. Another borehole rehabilitated today (pictured below) is Apala Telela and the women say ‘Thank you’.
Women of Apala Telela borehole
This month I had the chance to visit our borehole projects in Kayonza district, Rwanda. Accompanied by our partners Rwandans4water, I went to visit three boreholes that were rehabilitated under our programme. The photos below were taken at Mutembo where we met with the community leader, who described the tremendous impact of the borehole on the wellbeing of the families.
Children of the community also showed us the stream that they used to collect water from before the project started. Rehabilitated in late 2015, Mutembo borehole is now providing safe drinking water for 180 families in the community eliminating the need to fetch wood for water purification. It is always a pleasure to see the impacts of our projects and we are thankful for the good work being carried out by our project partners and technicians.
In my next blog, I will share a sneak peek of the Gold Standard’s visit to Rwanda – we are proud to say that our projects were selected to be part of a new video showcasing the multiple sustainable development benefits of GS projects.
We will keep you posted!