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
Rural women largely contribute to agricultural and rural enterprises therefore driving local and global economy which in turn contributes to Sustainable development goals. However, persistent structural constraints such as lack of education and constant exposure to risks of violence hamper their full potential in growing economies around them. In rural areas, women are culturally assigned reproductive roles, housework, fuel collection and caring for children. A greater burden goes to firewood collection and fetching water therefore limiting women from employment opportunities.
In the concept of mitigating climate change and structural constraints faced by women and girls in rural Kenya Co2balance has distributed 10,000 energy efficient cook stoves in Meru South. These cook stoves contribute to lesser use of wood as compared to traditional open fire cook stoves. This has greatly contributed to lessening the burden of wood collection by rural women in Meru South thus creating time for other household activities and establishment of Small Income generating activities in beneficiary.
Agnes Kanini from Muiru Village Meru South is one of our case studies who has directly benefited from this cook stoves program. She applauds the program for helping change her lifestyle in the kitchen, financially and time management.
Despite her lack of education which hinders her from securing a formal job, Agnes is able to save time from wood collection for mining activities near her home area.
Though this casual job is short-term, more precarious and less protected it has contributed to an extra income complimenting her husband’s of income. Improvements in her home are noteworthy since she adopted the carbon zero stove. Agnes explains that firewood has become a rare commodity. She further says that the population in the area has increased in the last five years and the same has resulted to the pressure in the small forests available.
In Her own words she says,“sasa hata tulikuwa tunashindwa miaka tano inayokuja kuni zitapatikana wapi, na msitu ni kama kilomita kumi; hii jiko imenisaidia kwa sababu tulikuwa tunatumia kama dakika thelathini kukata kuni za kupika siku moja. Ile ingine tulikuwa tunatumia zaidi ya masaa mawili” (“We were wondering where we are going to be collecting the firewood as the forest is ten kilometers from here; the carbon zero stove has helped me because we usually spend like 30 minutes to collect firewood compared to the three stone which we used to spend more than 2 hours”).
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). http://std.co.ke/14468 http://std.co.ke/14469
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.
As a result of its pioneering global micro Programme of Activities (mPoA), co2balance are assisting partners develop projects in countries that have yet to see much benefit from carbon finance initiatives. The most recent addition to our PoA is GS 4036 which is the second cookstove VPA in development in Zoba Anseba, Eritrea. This VPA implemented along with our partners Vita an Irish Charity, involves the development of improved “Mogogo Stoves”, unique to the Eritrean way of life.
Gold Standard last week confirmed that this second VPA was officially listed. Currently on the ground in Eritrea, our partners Vita are constructing hundreds of stoves per month, using womens groups (see image). It is an exciting time.
Our managing director, Mark Simpson is in Eritrea presently visiting the Vita team and local communities and we look forward to news from the front and stories from villagers upon his return to the UK. Watch the space.
In the past weeks we have analysed several monitoring studies conducted for the VPA 1 Bugesera Improved Cook Stoves (GS 1267) project and we were very pleased to receive such positive feedbacks on the project from our stove users.
The Kitchen Performance Test aimed to provide a quantified figure of the actual wood saving of the stove, while the Kitchen Surveys provided more qualitative data on the experience of using improved stove in the household. All respondents interviewed for the Kitchen Surveys answered that they are happy with the improved stoves and use it on average twice a day. 77% of the interviewees indicated that the stove used less wood, while 12% and 10% appreciated that the improved stove reduced cooking time and produced less smoke respectively. In line with this founding, 94% of stove users answered that they enjoyed faster cooking since using the improved cookstove.
The Kitchen Surveys also explored the wood use before and after the project to triangulate the quantitative data from the Kitchen Performance Tests on the changes in wood use. The data from the Kitchen Performance Tests showed that the average wood consumption decreased as a result of the project (from 13.62 to 3.22 kg/hh/day) and the answers in the Kitchen Surveys reinforced the assumptions that it lead to improved health and socio-economic conditions of the households.
According to the answers the smoke level in the households decreased significantly, as 85% of the respondents noticed less smoke produced by the co2balance designed “Gabanyibicanwa stove “ compared to the 3-stone fire. 54% of the people told that their overall health condition improved after adopting the improved cookstove while 23%-23% noted less coughing and less eye irritation. Combined with wood fuel measurements taken during the Baseline Survey it is clear that use of the stove results in a cleaner and healthier cooking environment.
I landed in Mombasa for the 3rd verification of our Shimba Hills Improved Cookstove Project on the 30th of June. I was nervous and excited at the same time, as this was my first on-site cookstove audit and also my very first trip to Kenya, but my worries soon disappeared and had a very interesting time both professionally and personally. The verification visit went well which is mainly thanks to our Kenyan colleagues – and our in-country coordinator Moses in particular. He and his team made sure the smooth running of the site visit, no matter what difficulties we encountered on the way, crossing from the lush villages of Golini to the arid hills of Maungu. What also made this trip special was the hospitality of the Kenyan people and I am grateful for their warm welcome at each and every household we visited. I am looking forward very much to coming back one day, until then asante sana once again!
Our auditor, Mr. Sunil Kathuria with our country coordinator Moses Maina in Maungu
Mary Mbaka a mother of three lives in Kiangondu village, Chuka Division, Meru South, Kenya.
Mary is a farmer and is a beneficiary of an energy efficient cook stove acquired from Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd .Having used Carbon Zero stove for the last one year, she was delighted to say that “Prior to receiving this good stove my cows always bellowed because I did not have enough time to feed and water them. This is because after picking tea, I used to travel long distances to fetch firewood therefore lacking required time to feed and water them. As a result, the amount of milk produced was not enough for the family and for sale.”
Mary is a happy mother and wife because the distances she used to cover to the forest are only covered once a week as compared to the previous number of times when she was using the traditional hearth. Presently, the time saved from the forest visits is used to feed and water the animals among other household chores. This has in-turn helped in increased milk production and consequently revenue. She adds, ”From the sales of milk I can now pay my children’s school fees and buy more animal feeds especially during the dry season when there is little nappier grass in the fields. I am glad that I do not depend on my husband’s income always but rather complement it.”
Co2balance has in this case added value to the lives of Meru South people in their livelihoods and contributed to environmental resilience in this Region.