Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. One problem caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. If greenhouse gases are in large enough quantity, they can force climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Trees can help a lot as it’s estimated that about 300 billion tons of carbon is stored in trees, according to Greenpeace.
The deforestation of trees not only lessens the amount of carbon stored, it also releases carbon dioxide into the air. This is because when trees die, they release the stored carbon. According to the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment, deforestation releases nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year. Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, ranging between 6 percent and 17 percent. (Van Der Werf, G. R. et al., 2009).
Worldwide deforestation accounts for 25-30 percent of annual CO2 global emissions, the result of the burning of brushland for subsistence agriculture and wood fires used for cooking. A surging population in Africa seeking to provide energy for cooking needs has led to massive environmental damage, including deforestation.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Africa, where a 2007 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forest report stated, “in Africa, almost 90 percent of all (forest) wood removals are used for energy.”
Deforestation is ongoing even in Kenya and is shaping climate and geography. One case scenario is Kaptagat forest in Eldoret. This forest has been threatened by anthropogenic activities one of them being cutting down trees for wood fuel. Demand for fuel has destroyed Kaptagat forest and threatened lives of people living nearby.
(Watch the media coverage on status of Kaptagat forest via the links below).
Deforestation for firewood causes:
-global warming/climate change
-loss of biodiversity
-loss of habitat
-soil erosion etc
Many organizations thought of ways to combat this worrying trend on this very vital forest. Carbon Zero Kenya could similarly not just sit and watch thus started an improved cook stove project in the area. 16,000 cook stoves were distributed in the area and the results so far have been promising.
The improved cook stove came in handy to reduce on amount of wood spent on cooking by replacing three stone /traditional stoves which over time have been consuming high volumes of firewood and even demanding for more hence increasing levels of deforestation. Traditional stoves have low combustion efficiency, leading to higher cooking times and inefficient use of fuel wood. Introduction of the improved cook stoves by Carbon Zero will lead to the revamping of Kaptagat forest while at the same time cutting down on wood use hence reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the past week, I had the pleasure of attending two site visits verifying our Gold Standard projects; Meru and West Kisumu. There were many humbling conversations with stove beneficiaries who were delighted with our improved cook stoves and full of gratitude for the work and impact of co2balance projects. Below is a collection of photos from the team and the trip.
Asante sana to all !
Chetan Sharma our auditor from KBS Certification and Moses Maina our chief Guru in Kenya
On a very happy meeting with the local Women’s Group who constructed the Artisanal Stoves in West Kisumu. with Moses, Christine and Chetan.
Moses and myself discussing the quality of Kenyan Tea and the means of production (which was stewing in the pot). Our conversation was exciting based on our persistent disagreement on the merits of Kenyan Tea over English Breakfast Tea 🙂
From left, Christine, Ethan, Nancy, Chetan and Moses overlooking Lake Victoria, just outside of Kisumu City
Michael, co2balance Community Project Officer in Meru, discussing with local children about the local open water source and the water quality.
The past few days have been very busy for Carbon Zero Kenya team. Effectively multitasking to ensure all ongoing projects meet the required high standards and yesterday was not different. A truck full of buckets and port plates left our Nairobi office early in the morning headed to Kisumu West.
One may wonder whether Carbon Zero has started selling buckets and the answer is a simple NO! The buckets are for making the most loved Carbon Zero artisanal Cook stove.
Carbon Zero is working on an efficient cook stove project with rural women from Umeme Women Group in Kisumu West to produce 900 artisanal stoves. The aim of the Umeme Women’s Group Improved Cook Stove Project is to set up a self sustaining cook stove enterprise that will construct and sell 900 stoves over the course of the next five months. Carbon Zero Kenya will provide all stove components and materials required to construct the stoves as well as training and a work place. Carbon Zero Kenya will also provide marketing and sales support, while the Umeme Women’s group will contribute and play an active role in promoting the business. This project will create some source of income for the women and thus be able to improve their living standards.
A shortage of fuel for cooking is one of the many problems faced by people in Kisumu West as it is the case in other parts of the country. Gathering fuel is generally women’s work but is fraught with dangers; they gamble with the risk of rape and life threatening attacks during their search for much needed firewood, in order to feed their families. In certain areas, local sources of firewood are completely depleted, leading women to travel further and further afield or to dig up tree roots, eliminating any chance of the trees growing again. Even if women survive this, they are still exposing themselves and their children to potentially deadly smoke fumes.
Carbon Zero is tackling this issue in Kisumu West through the use of more fuel-efficient Carbon Zero Artisanal Stove, which is both affordable and easy to use; cutting the amount of risky trips for firewood and allowing more trees the opportunity to grow. Subsequently, burning smaller amounts wood fuel means less smoke will engulf their homes and their lungs.