Last month, I returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Kenya where I was able to see projects that are in their infancy but also some of our well-established projects. It was great to see people’s enthusiasm for the projects with the expectation that the projects would make a measurable difference in their lives but also be able to talk to people that have experienced a change and who express their appreciation.
In Ethiopia I attended stakeholder meetings for 5 new projects that are being established together with one of our project partners. It was fantastic to see how professional and thorough the team were in organising the meetings but also how engaged the local communities and also local government were in the work that is planned for the area.
In Kenya, I visited our projects in Meru and close to the coast around Shimba Hills. The contrast in the landscapes and experience from the two different parts of the country was striking, from the fertile soils around Mount Kenya to the vast plains around Kasigau, near Shimba Hills, both were incredible! As always I was impressed by the relationship that our field staff have built with the communities since the project was established and their knowledge of the local area.
I want to say a big thank you, ameseginalehu and asante to both teams for the trip; it is one I will remember!
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.
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”).
Micheal Njihia and Virginia Njata
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.
Its common knowledge that almost everywhere on earth people cook, but that is not all, the question is yes you cook; but how do you do it? Are you using the traditional three stone stoves or an energy efficient stove? And do you know that the way you cook has an effect to your health, the environment and even beyond, do you know that? If you don’t know then allow me tell you how!
A large population of people in developing nations depend on traditional three stone fires for cooking; this primitive form of cooking negatively impacts the health of people using the stove and the well being of the natural environment. According to recent estimates by the World Health Organization, up to 1.6 million women and children die every year from breathing polluted air in their homes. Respiratory and vision problems occur in mostly women and children because they spend significant time indoors tending to cooking fires.
Another critique with traditional wood fires is the inefficiency in fuel consumption. Traditional wood fires are inefficient at transferring the released energy into the cooking vessel. Most of the released energy in the wood is wasted heating the surrounding air rather than heating the cooking vessel. 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.
Carbon Zero are tackling these issues through the use of more fuel-efficient woodstoves, which are 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. This further translates into improved health and time savings for households, in preservation of forests and associated ecosystem services, and in reducing emissions that contribute to global climate change.
I am sure that since you now know the effects of the kind of stove you use for cooking you will be able to make the right decision, shall you?
May be I should start by asking if you care for future generations-even a little, do you? Carbon Zero has made this its top priority. I guess you must be asking yourself how and why?
OK, do you know that nearly three billion people across the globe cook every single day using open, three-stone fires, or rudimentary stoves that burn biomass such as wood, agricultural waste, animal dung, and charcoal? Cooking with these traditional cook stoves is inefficient and grossly polluting, harming health and the environment, and contributing to global warming.
In many places worldwide, women must walk for hours to collect firewood, risking their safety and sacrificing energy and their valuable time that could be used to earn a living. While often overlooked as a major contributor to the global burden of disease, cooking over open fires indoors is the largest environmental health risk in developing countries, and exposes women and the young children to high levels of smoke that is very dangerous to their health.
Burning dry firewood can save money, time and resources. From experience a properly installed wood-burning stove should produce little smoke. That’s because newer technologies have better combustion. Did you know that better combustion technology produces a hotter fire and that a hot fire releases little smoke and requires less fuel? In fact smoke coming out of your chimney is simply – wasted energy.
At Carbon Zero we have taken it our responsibility to fight climate change thus has installed thousands of energy efficient cook stoves in many parts of the country (Kenya) and beyond. This was and has been a tough process of replacing old three stone stoves with more energy efficient Carbon Zero Stoves. The process has not been easy but we do not regret since the benefits that the local communities are enjoying as a result are tremendous, we wish we could do even more.
As a result we have maintained continuous contact with local communities training them how to use the stoves and also sharing experiences to enable us even enhance our work. In the process we have talked to many of our stove beneficiaries many times beyond number and they have categorically stated that energy efficiency benefits of using energy efficient cook stoves are:
• Saves money, fuel, time and resources.
• 50% more energy efficient.
• Uses 1/3 less wood for the same heat.
• Produces 70% less particle pollution indoors and out.
They have also indicated that Environmental benefits of using energy efficient cook stoves are :
• Reduces indoor and outdoor wood smoke pollution which has been linked to cancer, asthma and other serious health conditions.
• Improved combustion efficiency reduces CO2, methane and black carbon emissions.
• Saves billions in health benefits each year.
Now I know you know why it’s vital to embrace energy efficient cook stoves. Carbon Zero has frequently told this story, and it will continue because we know that if we do not protect the environment today then we are jeopardizing the lives of generations to come.