An Exciting Few Weeks for the Team

The next couple of weeks promise to be action packed for the projects team. I am heading out to Malawi to meet with our partners Concern Universal to discuss ways we can work together to deliver even more great projects. While Richard is flying out to Kenya this weekend to prepare for and undertake the site visits for our two CDM cook-stove projects. He will be followed closely by Eszter who has a fantastic trip lined up to Uganda to check on our borehole projects, before heading off to Kenya for the Shimba Hills verification site visit.

While we all welcome the chance to get out of the office these trips are normally jam packed so that we can make the most of them and more often than not we return in need of a long holiday!

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Safe Water in Malawi with Concern Universal

CO2balance is pleased to announce that it has recently submitted 4 micro scale projects to the Gold Standard Foundation for listing. This marks a milestone in our work to date with Concern Universal in Malawi and lays the foundations for scaling up our partnership further.

Borehole repair

The projects in question aim to provide safe water to households in rural Malawi through a programme of borehole repairs and drilling followed by a preventative maintenance programme to ensure they continue to provide clean water to communities for the entire 7 year life time of the project.

While Malawi continues to invest and make progress in water sector development, there are still issues of functionality and equity across the country with some districts including Dowa and Kasungu remaining among the least served, estimated at 41% and 61% respectively. Safe water access is even worse across the districts with 24% of the population having access to safe water in TA Dzoole; 26% in TA Kayembe and 32% in TA Chakhaza in Dowa district; 24% in TA Santhe and 40% in TA Kawamba in Kasungu districts.

This is in part due to the high variability and climatic extremes present in this area of continent, but the primary reason is a lack of infrastructure and functionality issues.  Water stress has been shown to be a key barrier in achieving economic development, so achieving the growth necessary to invest in infrastructure remains out of reach in a vicious cycle driven by poverty.

Malawi

Decentralised water purification systems (such as boreholes and domestic filtration devices) offer a less expensive route to clean water security, but the costs involved in even these small scale interventions are prohibitive for most people at a domestic level.  Therefore the traditional technique of boiling water remains the only viable method of purifying water for households and  around 5% of domestic energy in Africa (primarily in the form of non renewable biomass) is used to treat water in this manner. This project aims to remove the energy barrier of purifying water through boiling by repairing, drilling and maintaining boreholes in undeserved rural communities.

Why invest in borehole projects in Uganda?

In our previous blog entries we have already discussed how borehole rehabilitation projects can reduce co2 emissions originated from burning biomass for water purification. Today’s blog entry wants to shed a light on the current situation of the water sector in Northern Uganda to show that beside climate change mitigation, investing in borehole projects makes a big difference in people’s life on the ground.

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Across the globe, around 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; which is approximately one in eight people (UNICEF/WHO). Only 22-34% of the population of sub-Saharan countries have access to clean water (UNEP), so it is clear that the problem of safe water supply or water stress is of particular concern in the region. It is in part due to the high variability and climatic extremes present in this area of continent, but the primary reason is a lack of infrastructure. The situation is further complicated in Northern Uganda – the project area of CO2balance – where communities have developed a dependency on development programmes as a result of having lived in IDP camps for over 20 years (UWASNET). The region experienced conflict as a result of armed rebellion by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which led to widespread displacement of almost the entire population of the region (UNICEF). The recovery now is under way, but several challenges slow down the reconstruction of the area. Water stress has been shown to be one of the key barriers in achieving economic development, so achieving the growth necessary to invest in infrastructure remains out of reach in a vicious cycle.

Through effective and accountable external funding and through close cooperation with local communities, co2balance aims to provide a potential model in coping with the lack of investment in Kole, Alebtong, Otuke and Alebtong districts, hoping that this way we contribute our fair share in solving the problem. For more information on our boreholes stay tuned on this blog where our in-country coordinator will post regular updates on the progress of our clean water projects.

Case Study: Mary Njoki, 65

Our Aberdares clean cook stove project in Kenya started in 2011, and now contains approximately 10,000 stoves. Since the arrival of the carbon zero stoves in Lari district, the beneficiaries have had time to experience the benefits and switched the majority of their cooking over to them.

We recently spoke to Mary Njoki a 65 year old woman from Bathi Village and a single mother of six children who have all married and moved in with their own families. She lives alone with her two grandchildren and manages a small farm to put meals on the table.

Case Study Aberdares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary says “the carbon zero stove has really helped me in saving time  and money because  before the introduction  of carbon zero stoves in the area I used to spend much of my  time visiting Kereita forest everyday collecting firewood which  is about 3km from my home, spending like 5 hours in a day. But since I received the carbon zero stove, I only visit kereita forest once per week because the stove is more efficient as compared to 3-stone stoves. On the other hand before introduction of carbon zero stoves I used to spend kshs. 250 to purchase  one bundle which could last for only three days but these days one bundle goes for two weeks with the same mode of cooking as before which means  that I end up saving over Kshs.750 after two weeks

She also added that ‘nowadays I spend much of my time and money these days to concentrate on my farming activities i.e. planting carrots, kales, potatoes, cabbages and pruning peas trees and also spending some of my money to educate my grandchildren’

She went on to say that, “I can testify that carbon zero stoves produce less soot/smoke as compared to 3-stone stoves which my neighbor Mama Grace uses everyday causing more problems on her family’s health” 

Developing Leaders

On Tuesday the 25th March we welcomed Dr Ian Williams from CaplorHorizons into the CO2balance office in Taunton to provide leadership training to various members of the organisation. Amongst other things CaplorHorizons aims to inspire sustainability in business and communities as well as delivering training programmes that build remarkable teams. The session covered many areas and there was plenty to take on board as we thought about what makes an effective leader and how we might improve our own leadership styles.

Leadership Training

Getting stakeholders views in Nakuru and Baringo Counties

Due to the expertise that co2balance has in developing carbon projects it has partnered with World Vision  to develop a clean cook stove project in two Counties in Kenya. As a result on 4th and 5th of March 2014 co2balance team together with the World Vision managed to successfully carry out three local stakeholder meetings in Wema – Nakuru County and Mogotio – Baringo County respectively.  The meetings were very crucial as they provided vital feedback from all stakeholders who attended the meetings. More importantly the meetings provided feedback from community members who will be the users of the stoves. Through the meetings much was gathered in relation to the needs of the community in this project that will provide good guidance in rolling out the project.

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During the meetings it was our pleasure on our part (co2balance represented by Lloyd and Moses) as carbon experts explaining in the simplest way to the communities about carbon credits, carbon market and carbon finance issues that seemed to amaze them very much. Most of the community members were passionate and we look forward to a successful engagement as a result. This is justified by the fact that many of the stoves that were brought on-site for viewing by a local producer called SCODE were bought by stakeholders in attendance even to the surprise of the seller.

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Managing to have government ministries, County government representation and NEMA in the meetings was a great achievement for us as it clearly indicates the kind of support we together with World Vision have from the government. Most importantly was seeing various government officials and NEMA officers in attendance fully endorse the project as they urged the local communities to take advantage of the opportunity.

Listening to the local communities share their sad stories on how their smoked kitchens have negatively affected them and their children moved hearts of many thus confirming the fact that this clean cook stove project could not have come at a better time. Many also narrated stories regarding difficulties they undergo to get these vital pieces of wood; firewood and dear costs and time consumed in search of firewood. Despite all these, we gave them hope in our solution that using clean and energy efficient cook stoves would provide a solution to their current menace.

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The meetings went well; however to make the process adequately participatory and following Gold Standard requirements we still continue to collect more views from stakeholders through the contacts provided to the stakeholders. At the end of it all, community stakeholders were happy, government officials were happy, world vision were happy, as co2balance representatives we were happy thus with  confidence we can say the three LSC meetings were a success and the battle against climate change continues!

 

5* Luxury Meets 5* Sustainability

This week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Mara Bushtops, a safari camp located in a private conservancy on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve. The aim of the visit wasn’t rest and relaxation but to understand the types of environmentally friendly initiatives they have already implemented and discuss ways that they could build on them by possibly leveraging carbon finance as an alternative revenue stream.

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But as this is a luxury camp it wasn’t all hard work and I was made to feel more than welcome right from the start as I was met by Daniel, the Head Ranger, at the airstrip with coffee and cakes to refresh me before the short drive to the camp. For those unfamiliar with the conservancy approach it is a land management strategy that allows wildlife and livestock to co-exist through careful management of grazing. The results were clear to see as we passed from one conservancy to another through un-managed areas where the trees and wildlife would instantly disappear and the landscape became barren. In return for allowing the camp to use their land and reducing grazing on it the Masai are also paid a set fee per hectare of land that they give over to the initiative; clearly a “win-win” for all involved.

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Mara Bushtops have taken significant steps to lower their impact on the area and boost their eco-credentials; from a kitchen garden that supplies a good proportion of their vegetables to solar hot water and electricity throughout the camp. Not to mention LED lighting and a “fridge” that keeps the produce cool without needing any power. But it’s not just about the camp, they actively support the local community and in particular the local school which now has a computer lab and will soon have a dinning hall for the kids as well as two new dorms for those that board.

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There was a lot to discuss and there is great potential to build on what they have already achieved in a relatively short space of time. Watch this space to see how things develop!

Team Building and Training in the Aberdares

On 11th  and 12th of February 2014 co2balance Kenya held a rigorous training in the Nairobi office then proceeded to the field in Aberdare’s one of co2balance project areas for practical’s. The training was attended by the three regional coordinators and myself; the newly recruited PDC in Kenya. Lloyd a UK based project manager who is in Kenya currently attended the training too while at the same time playing a key role of coordinating the whole training process.

Team Training Day

The training couldn’t have come at a better time as it enabled me as a person and the rest of the team to visualize things that seemed vague initially and gain deeper understanding about the whole project cycle and other project nitty gritties. The training provided a rear opportunity for the trainees to gain a diversity of essential theoretical skills regarding various project monitoring surveys in terms of when and how they should be conducted, validation process,  verification, how to create and effectively use GPS maps, carrying out a water boiling test and many more.

We further took time in the field in one of co2balance project areas and had very informative practical lessons where the trainees were given an opportunity to put theory into practise with the guidance of the trainers. In the field we were joined by some of the education community liaison officers (ECLO’s). Seeing members of the team shed tears and some with their handkerchiefs blowing their running noses they developed after the kitchen got “smoked” by the three stone stove was a lifetime experience.  It was indeed a great learning experience working with the team in a small village kitchen carrying out a comparative WBT on both three stone and CZK stove.

WBT Training

As away to measure impact of the training, trainees were asked to indicate their confidence in carrying out project tests and surveys and they all confirmed that their confidence had been increased. The regional coordinators and the ECLO’s who attended the training were tasked to go and train other staff on the project hence boost the technical knowhow of the whole Kenyan team in totality.

Good manners compel me on behalf of all trainees and the whole Kenyan team who will as a result benefit from this training thank the management of co2balance for having provided resources that were instrumental in facilitating this very important activity. Lloyd’s ability to coordinate the process remains commendable. I must also mention and thank the trainers (Jack and Teddy) too for their wonderful job.

Laying the Foundations in Baringo

co2balance joined new partners World Vision on a field trip to Baringo Country in Kenya at the beginning of the week to consult with various stakeholders about the up coming micro-scale cookstove projects. The trip included representatives from World Vision Australia, WV Finland as well as WV Kenya and started with a visit to households currently using different improved cookstoves in the area. This allowed the group to gain a greater understanding of the needs and challenges faced by women when cooking meals for their families; unsurprisingly the amount of smoke produced by different stove types was a common topic.

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Left to Right: Timothy (WV Kenya), Lydia (WV Kenya), Annette (WV Finland),
Andrew (WV Australia), Lloyd (co2balance), Dismas (WV Kenya)

The rest of the trip was given over to a consultation session in the grounds of a local school where area leaders, ministers and womens groups were invited to come and discuss the project. One of the hot topics was the savings and loans schemes implemented by the womens groups. The project aims to facilitate access to improved cookstoves but would like to tap into and support existing micro-finance structures. By doing this a market based approach can be developed that would result in organic growth within the project.

As announced in a previous blog post a stakeholder date and venue has been set and we would invite anyone interested to attend.