In October I travelled to Uganda to meet with the CO2balance Uganda team, partner NGOs and local officials.
The trip included visiting our borehole projects in Kaliro and Lango. It was great to meet our committed and knowledgeable team and partners, who do a wonderful job in implementing the projects. Each borehole is managed by a Water Resource Committee, made up of local borehole users who ensure the borehole is kept clean and functioning. The Committees are trained to be “gender sensitive” and each have a gender balance of 50/50.
The main purpose of the trip was to host clients who were visiting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project that they had funded in addition to offsetting their CO2 emissions through the Lango Safe Water Project. The CSR project worked in 2 primary schools: rehabilitating rainwater harvesting systems in both, and fixing a borehole in one and building a new pit latrine in the other.
The new pit latrine at one primary school makes people jump for joy!
The impact of this project was fantastic. The new pit latrine gave girls a safe, hygienic and private place to use the toilet and change. This is particularly important for those in their monthly menstrual cycle. The Head Teacher said that it has reduced absenteeism and has a huge positive impact on education. The rehabilitated borehole on the school grounds gives pupils a source of clean water, without which they had to walk for many kilometres to fetch water. Again, this impacts upon education as pupils no longer tire themselves by walk to and carrying heavy loads of water. The rainwater harvesting systems capture rainwater and store it in the 16,000 litres tanks. This can be used for washing hands, cooking, cleaning and drinking.
Pupils now have a water source on the school grounds
It was wonderful to see the impacts these projects are having on the pupils and their communities. The visit gave the clients the opportunity to see their work first-hand and meet the people who are benefiting from the projects. Because of the stories, songs, dances and messages of thanks they received, as well as observing the projects in action, they were able to take these stories back to their company, family and friends to spread the message of sustainability. As a gesture of thanks from the schools, they received traditional water containers, brushes, 3 chickens, 2 doves and a sheep.
Members of a women’s business group collect water from a borehole in Lango sub-region
Projects under the Gold Standard, the principle body through which we verify carbon credits at CO2balance, are currently undergoing transition to a new methodology, Gold Standard for the Global Goals. Projects making this transition will be required to demonstrate the impacts they are having towards achieving some of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are delighted to announce that as this transition goes ahead, CO2balance has been approached by the Gold Standard to pilot the new guidelines for proving the gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness of projects.
Our projects to rehabilitate and maintain boreholes in Lango, Northern Uganda, are currently undergoing the transition to becoming fully gender-responsive projects. We have already gathered evidence of the positive impacts that the projects have for gender equality. It is well-documented that in Northern Uganda, as in rural areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of collecting water for household use falls disproportionately on women, who will often spend over 3 hours per day going back and forth to distant water sources. This prevents women from being able to engage in productive activities, such as learning and engaging in trades to generate income independently. Making long solo journeys to collect water also puts women at risk of danger, with widespread reports of assaults against women in rural areas.
Having collected findings on these trends before, we are well aware that our projects, in putting safe water sources in the very heart of the community, enable women to have time to engage in productive activities and allow them to avoid exposing themselves to danger. However, the challenge to date has been to quantify and verify the positive impacts of the projects in this area.
Being the first project to implement the new Gold Standard gender requirements, there will be a stakeholder meeting conducted in Lango to get community feedback on the status of gender relations in the area. This will be followed by a baseline survey which will give us a basis to monitor the impacts on gender relations of the projects in future. Although we are already aware of some of the indicators that are likely to arise through these studies, we are also very excited to potentially learn about new and wholly unexpected impacts of the projects. And of course, having quantitative data on the impacts of the projects will allow us to refine our activities and maximise positive impacts for both men and women.
This puts the projects at the cutting edge of the carbon projects field, as they will generate the first Gold Standard gender-certified credits. You can learn more about the guidelines and the pilot project in Uganda through article and the Gold Standard website. Watch this space to hear more about the progress of the projects over the next few weeks!
CO2balance intend to develop a series of new borehole projects under the GS1247 Improved Kitchen Regimes Multi-Country PoA in northern Uganda (Alebong, Otuke, Dokolo, Kole and Oyam Districts). As part of this process we are interested in receiving feedback during the early stages of our project design and are inviting any interested parties including international NGOs, local policy makers and community members who will benefit from the projects, to attend the Gold Standard stakeholder consultation at Omoro Town Council, Alebtong District on 6th May 2016, 9:00am.
The meeting provides a great opportunity to raise interest and seek the opinions of a variety of groups on the project’s design, which we believe is a crucial step to enhancing community ownership and ensuring that the projects are well received.
For more information about the project and venue please see the invite and project summary below. If you would like to attend or have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch.
CO2balance are pleased to announce that our first two borehole VPAs in Kaliro District, Uganda, have been issued under the Gold Standard. For the past two years, we have worked closely with local NGO WAACHA and district water mechanics to rehabilitate broken down boreholes and implement a long term maintenance programme that ensures the provision of clean water to communities for at least 7 years. An important part of the programme is community sensitization and engagement, which involves training the borehole caretakers and water resource committees on the key aspects of borehole maintenance and hygiene. We recognise that creating a sense of ownership among the community members is a crucial element to the success of the projects.
WAACHA and CO2balance conducting a WASH meeting in Madibira under a jackfruit tree
Educating children from Saaka school on the importance of borehole hygiene
Through its innovative global micro Programme of Activities (mPoA), CO2balance are developing projects in some of the most remote and poverty-stricken areas in the world, which have yet to gain access to the benefits of carbon finance. Since 2013, we have listed over 40 new micro-scale VPAs under the Gold Standard Foundation, the majority of which are safe water projects that focus on the rehabilitation and maintenance of boreholes.
In developing countries, off grid water points such as boreholes still play an essential role in supplying rural areas with safe water and although millions of dollars are spent each year by governments and NGOs alike on new infrastructure, one of the key problems that remains is the absence of functional maintenance systems for existing water points. In some countries such as Malawi and Uganda up to 30% of the boreholes are broken down at any given time, highlighting an urgent need for pragmatic solutions to water supply management in developing countries.
The borehole rehabilitation projects run by CO2balance together with its local NGO partners seek to tackle this problem by leveraging carbon finance to fund the long-term upkeep of boreholes. Furthermore, we work closely with the communities on sensitisation and general borehole management which is a crucial element to the success of the projects.
Local NGO partner WAACHA rehabilitating a borehole in Kaliro District
CO2balance are proud to announce the registration of a fifth Gold Standard borehole project in Uganda –Kaliro Safe Water Project GS3443-adding to the company’s rapidly growing portfolio of micro scale projects in the country. Since 2013 CO2balance have repaired over 50 boreholes in 5 districts which supply clean water to more than 30,000 people. This marks a major achievement especially taking into account the challenging and remote locations we operate in. Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to develop our projects in Uganda.
A Rehabilitated and well maintained borehole in Lwamboga, Kaliro
Photos courtesy of the Womens Alliance and Children Affairs NGO
Any development practitioner would confirm the fact that without effective community engagement no clean water project can be successful, no matter how much energy, time and money spent on the project by other stakeholders. That is why CO2balance has launched a more participative WASH sensitization and community engagement programme in Kole, Otuke, Alebtong and Dokolo districts, where our borehole projects are implemented. The aim of the programme is to educate, train and engage communities on basic water, sanitation and hygiene issues in order to keep the water at both the borehole and the households level clean and fit for human consumption. Even when the water source itself is safe, water used for drinking may get contaminated because of poor water-handling practices or unsafe storage. That is why effective and continuous WASH sensitization in the communities is a very important part of our four Ugandan borehole projects. Andrew, our in-country-coordinator will soon report from the field with more updates on the programme.
As my Ugandan colleague Andrew already indicated in his previous post, we had a very intense one week in Uganda in early July visiting rehabilitated boreholes and meeting with our in-country partners to assess the on-going works. I feel very lucky that I had a chance to see our projects on the ground and to be able to talk the communities. Some of them shared their joy about the clean water the boreholes have been delivering since the rehabilitation and some other provided invaluable feedback how we can improve the projects to make an even bigger impact locally. Following up the lessons learned during this trip, we are currently working closely with our in-country partners to launch a more participative WASH sensitization program. We are hoping that this sensitization programme will mobilize those communities too that seemed a bit more reluctant to engage actively in the projects and encourage those communities who have been doing an amazing work to keep the boreholes safe and running.
The most rewarding part of the journey was to see that we are working in an area where these kinds of projects are very much needed. The decades long civil war has left the Northern districts without viable infrastructure for water supplies. Most of the population have relied on NGOs for years to provide the most basic services needed for their every-day life, however as the situation stabilized and international NGOs left, the government could not yet fill the gap in providing these services. It is great to see that through the carbon component we can commit to at least a 7-year period to maintain boreholes and to provide clean water services in Alebtong, Dokolo, Otuke and Kole. By involving the communities in the every-day running of the boreholes and providing education on WASH issues, we want to ensure the sustainability of the clean water supplies, not only during the lifespan of the project but hopefully well beyond.