In the vast county of Taita-Taveta, a small village of Kajire in Sagalla location thrives. And here we meet up with women from Kajire women group who have gathered for their monthly merry go round. With smiles and excitement on their faces they welcome us to their sitting. We introduce ourselves and we begin our small discussion on their experience using the Carbon Zero improved cook stove and its bigger impact in fighting climate change. Caroline Kwida who is one of the oldest members stands out, at her age of 76, she still has a lot to offer to the mother nature. With her advice and suggestion she captures the minds of her fellow members as she tells them about the Carbon Zero stove and how it has improved her lifestyle.
You see, Caroline lives with her 85 year old husband and her cooking area is inside her two roomed house. As she explains how smoke used to affect her and her aged husband giving them all sorts of respiratory infections and itchiness that would not stop in their half blind eyes, she could not be more grateful for the benefits of the carbon zero stove. She used to spend a lot of time fetching firewood now she says it takes her less than thirty minutes to gather firewood for her daily meals. Before getting the improved stove she used to spare not less than three hours daily just searching for fuel wood. The women are clearly amazed at this wonder stove and we request Caroline if she could be kind enough to invite us to her kitchen home which she quickly obliges. Not more than five hundred meters from the meeting place we arrive at her well kept homestead. She welcomes us in and starts to prepare us some tea so that we can also experience how fast the CZK stove cooks.
We ask what she does with the extra time now that she spends time looking for firewood and he gladly shows us her flock of ducks, she now has enough time to spend with her husband taking care of him in his old age and also take care of her flock of ducks which is her main source of income. Our tea is done in no time and the group members are very impressed. As we finish we cannot help but to wonder how this aged couple would have survived without the highly efficient CZK stove. Caroline and her fellow members are forever grateful for the introduction by Co2 balance of a life saving project. With a smile on our faces and confidence high up we take our leave to the next household.
CO2balance celebrated another milestone last week as we issued another of our Kenyan Improved Cook Stove projects under the Gold Standard. Situated in the coastal region of Kenya, the beautiful beaches are a popular tourist destination but local populations are still reliant on wood fuel and traditional three-stone fires for cooking. Over the past years we have monitored how our stoves have been helping to reduce the use of firewood leading to economic and health benefits for local people as well as lowering carbon emissions.
Since 1990 Kenya has lost on average 0.32% forest cover per year and though that does not sound very significant, it equates to more than 250,000 ha. This burden has fallen disproportionately on the coastal region of Kenya where fewer tree cover gains have been observed and our project is one that is helping to combat this decline. Biomass energy has hovered around 70% of total energy requirements for Kenya and seen little reduction in 40 years. 90% of this demand comes from the domestic sector and by providing more efficient cooking stoves, we can help to reduce the total demand for energy and therefore, wood, leading to multiple benefits for local people and the local environment.
Tekea Tsefagherghesh keeps her home spotlessly clean – not an easy task in Eritrea, a hot and dusty sub-Saharan country. Tekea’s village, Adi Tekelezan, is 2,500 metres above sea level and about 40 minutes’ drive north of Eritrea’s capital Asmara. Within the low walls is the mid-sized hut that contains Tekea’s most proud possession; her self-built improved cook stove.
The traditional stove with its open flame and voracious appetite for fuel is very detrimental for the health of families and their living environments. One familiar image of Africa is of women and children carrying heavy bundles of sticks, sometimes for many miles. Tekea was one such woman, gathering sticks three or four times a week and carrying them many miles back to her home, or spending her little amount of cash buying them instead.
Tekea’s new stove is quite substantial, at over two metres in length. It has various doors and openings to regulate the temperature as well as large, round hotplates so that she can cook Injera, the traditional bread eaten all over East Africa. The design is simple but very innovative, and has won many awards for it’s inventor, local man Debesai Ghebrehiwet such as The Green Apple Award and the Tech Museum award. Each stove saves at least three tonnes of CO2 per year.
Tekea has decorated her stove with hand painted flowers and leaves. The huge advantage of the stove is that it uses nearly 60% less fuel that the traditional stove and any harmful fumes are funneled out of the small, enclosed kitchen hut. All of the materials used to build the stove are sourced locally.
In this community-led programme, Vita supplies the moulds and the knowledge, but the women themselves contribute towards the cost, as well as building each stove with the help of the other village women. Involving the whole community ensures that no individual family is left out. Tekea is now a trainer, and works with Vita’s home economists to bring the programme to the wider community. Vita has an integrated approach to enabling farm families achieve sustainable livelihoods, involving not just stoves but clean water pumps, solar lights latrines and trees. This creates ‘green zones’ that not only benefit the families but have a hugely positive impact on the environment.
For Tekea, the drudgery of gathering sticks is dramatically reduced, and this has given her far more time to spend working to better her future and that of her children. Tekea, like more than 40% of women in Eritrea, rears her family of seven children alone. The extra income she can now earn is used to buy milk and help pay for her children’s education.
Award winning Mogogo Stove in Zoba Anseba
Tekea and her family in the village of Adi-Tekelezan
Tis the season to be jolly, merry and usually extravagant but instead of a white Christmas, perhaps a ‘green Christmas’ would be the best way to finish what has been a very positive year for the environment. Here are a few ways in which you can lower your carbon footprint this festive season and truly enjoy a guilt-free holiday.
With forecasts suggesting that this is likely to be the warmest Christmas for many decades, consider adjusting heating controls to reflect the mild weather. As many homes fill up with family and friends, as well as having an oven on for hours, houses will be warmer than usual and each 1° of overheating is equivalent to an 8% increase in heating costs.
Once the presents have been opened and the Christmas meal cooked and eaten, the waste paper in the UK alone could reach all the way to the moon! We now recycle more than we throw away in the UK and by keeping that up and recycling everything we can, it dramatically reduces the Christmas carbon footprint. For the UK, find out what you can recycle here.
When the festivities begin to wind down and it’s time to dispose of the tree, different methods of disposal have a big impact on its carbon footprint. Carbon Trust estimates suggests that with real trees the footprint can be reduced by as much as 80% by diverting old trees from landfill. Artificial trees have a larger carbon footprint than real ones and need to be re-used for 10 Christmases to keep the environmental impact lower than real ones.
Christmas celebrations can be all too short but it can be a great time to form lasting habits and encourage broader change. With friends and family around, your actions are more likely to get noticed by others and influence positive change. The simplest thing you can do to reduce the overall environmental impact over the holidays, is share your Christmas with as many family and friends as possible and from everyone at CO2balance, we wish you all happiness and good health.
Since 2013, CO2balance has been developing a number of borehole rehabilitation projects in Uganda under the Gold Standard voluntary carbon offset scheme. After almost 2 years, we are glad to announce that 4 VPAs in the Lango sub-region (Dokolo, Alebtong and Otuke Districts) have recently issued carbon credits for the first time. This is a major achievement for everyone that has been involved in the projects, in particular our staff in Uganda who have worked extensively with the communities and other local stakeholders to garner support and ensure that there is participation at all levels. Although this may seem straightforward, in practice there are a plethora of challenges that need to be negotiated especially when operating in such remote and poverty stricken environments.
Between 1987 and 2007, the Lango sub-region was subject to countless human rights atrocities by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which tore apart the fabric of the society. It is estimated that over 20,000 children were abducted by the LRA many of whom were forced to commit horrific acts of violence. Around 1 million people fled their homes and ended up moving to temporary camps for the internally displaced (IDPs). The prolonged period of conflict has inevitably led to the deterioration of institutions and basic services. All the challenges related to rebuilding a war-torn region remain, from stabilising the economy and restoring infrastructure to reintegrating LRA escapees and addressing human rights abuses.
Memorial Site for the 2004 LRA Massacre in Otuke District
Building a biogas plant for a local school in Barlonyo
Over the last 3 years, CO2balance has rehabilitated 41 boreholes in the Lango sub-region which supply clean water to over 20,000 people who previously relied on open water sources such as lakes and ponds. As local governments lack sufficient funds for water infrastructure, these projects are playing a small but important role in the region’s post conflict development.
CO2balance realises that community participation is crucial to the long term success of its projects
One of CO2balance’s rehabilitated boreholes in the Lango sub-region
CO2balance are celebrating somewhat of a milestone this week as we submit our 50th project under our global micro Programme of Activities (mPoA) GS1247! Together, our projects have had a huge impact, reducing global carbon emissions and improving livelihoods in some of the world’s poorest communities.
This is a significant flag in the ground and it coincides with the commitment from World Leaders to 17 Global Goals in the hope of achieving three extraordinary things; ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and mitigating climate change. As we continue to develop projects across the globe we are proud to be able to see and measure the tangible benefits that our projects have and how they are contributing towards achieving these goals.
For updates on all our projects, sign up to email updates or follow us at @co2balance.
Global support for climate action is growing and with less than 100 days to go before a deal is struck in Paris, there is an increasing focus on governments around the world to match this support with political will. Unlike the heady days of the ‘90s when agreements in Rio and Kyoto left environmental campaigners euphoric, negotiations in recent years have been incremental and marred with political log jams; the signs for the latest Conference of the Parties (COP) however, have been positive and groups of all persuasions are looking forward to the outcome on December 11th.
Unlike previous COPs, all governments have been invited to publically disclose their ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs). These are the climate pledges that countries are encouraged to submit ahead of the UN negotiations and to date 30 INDCs have been submitted covering 57 countries and almost two thirds of global emissions. Many of these have indicated ambitious reduction targets and more than 100 countries are expected to have announced their plans before negotiations begin in November.
The balance between a bottom-up and top-down (with the UN tracking whether governments are committing to enough reductions) format seems to have been delicate enough to ensure that a “fair” deal is struck and, since they have been decided themselves, governments of the future are less likely to backtrack on commitments. Setting these goals will send strong signals to businesses and investors globally, raising the confidence that a path is being laid in a transition towards a cleaner planet.
Today marked the close of the penultimate UN talks before Paris and already there seems to be a more open and transparent approach to roadblock issues that may arise over the coming months. We can only hope that this approach supports productive discussions and an ambitious climate agreement that meets global expectations and sets the tone for a brighter future.
Keep an eye on INDCs on the UNFCCC website – bit.ly/1AAyvjS