Visiting Uganda with the Climate Neutral Group
On July 8 2019, a group of 14 boarded the plane to Uganda. The purpose of this trip was to visit the climate projects in which the Climate Neutral Group and its clients invest. This way we can see the impact that is made with our own eyes and we can get a better picture of the investment made. This is the third project trip that Climate Neutral Group has organised. The participants pay a personal contribution for the trip, and the CO2 emissions caused by the trip (flying, accommodation, meals and mobility kilometres on site) are offset with the Uganda cookstove project.
DAY 1: BIOGAS FOR A BETTER EXISTENCE
Tuesday morning we left for the Dutch embassy in Kampala. Dr. Elizabeth Carabine, the Regional Senior Expert on Climate Change, gave a clear explanation of the challenges facing Uganda that directly affect the population and the climate. Northern Uganda is struggling with extreme deforestation. In the non-urban areas of Uganda, ninety percent of the population cooks over an open fire and is therefore dependent on wood (or charcoal) as a fuel for cooking. The wood is also cut for production. Agriculture, mainly coffee, tea and bananas, could use an efficiency boost. How beautiful is it that the biogas project that we are going to visit today relates directly to this? We drive into a village where we are warmly welcomed by the locals. Children come running from all over the village. Mammy, a single mother with 5 children, takes us to her farm. She shows us her livestock: two cows and some goats. The cattle faeces and food scraps are collected in their bio-digester. Within 30 days, the fermentation process creates biogas that they can cook on. The amount of manure from their small herd ensures four hours of cooking gas daily and allows the burning of two lamps. In the first year after placement of the biogas installation, 5,340 kg of wood was saved. A by-product of the fermentation process is ‘bio-slurry’, a tremendously fertile fertiliser. Thanks to the bio-slurry, Mammy harvests 40% more fruit and vegetables. And the beauty is that the slurry replaces expensive chemical fertiliser. In addition to saving CO2 the biogas digester also has positive effects on employment (for both men and women), sustainable energy development, agriculture, health and sanitation.
The biogas installation is a considerable investment for Mammy. The installation costs 15 million Ugandan Shilling (+/- € 400-500), which is equivalent to an average annual income. However, due to the improvement in the yield from the harvest and the cost savings on fuel and fertiliser, it will earn back the investment within one year.
DAY 2: WELLS, THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEAN WATER SUPPLY
On Wednesday morning, we continued on from Jinja to Kaliro, where we visited various water well projects. At the school, we were welcomed enthusiastically by all the students and we were introduced to the headmaster and the teachers. We were surprised with a cheerful dance and a play about the old and new water supply situation. This school is located in one of the poorest regions of Uganda. The well is therefore very important for the surrounding community. More than half of the local population does not have access to clean water in rural Uganda. In addition to the well, sanitary facilities have also been installed at the school.
The CO2 saving from the well comes because people no longer have to boil the water to kill the bacteria. The wells are often already present, but poorly maintained and out of use. The wells are being renovated as a result of CO2 offsetting. Local villagers are trained to repair and maintain the wells.
DAY 3: COOK STOVES REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
On the third and last day of the project trip we visited the cookstove project in the capital, Kampala. In Uganda, there is a lot of cooking over an open fire, which is extremely harmful to the health of users (mostly women) and causes an enormous amount of CO2 emissions. Indoor smoke causes four million premature deaths worldwide; this is more than malaria. In the factory in Kampala, we saw how the cookstove is made, distributed and ultimately used by families and in small restaurants. This gives a boost to the local economy. It is good to see that the working conditions of the employees are reasonable. They work 8 hours a day, with a half hour lunch break, and all of them wear a helmet and earplugs to protect against the noise when they are doing metalwork.
A cookstove costs about 60,000 Ugandan Shilling ($12). Without the carbon financing, you would pay 25 dollars for a cookstove. Due to the savings on charcoal, the cost of the cookstove is often recovered within two months. The efficient cookstove saves around 40 percent of the charcoal. We visited local families in the outskirts of Kampala to see how they cook on the cookstove. We also saw a woman who had several cookstoves and had set up a small restaurant for her neighbours and local workers.
On the way to the airport we visited another school, where meals are prepared twice a day for the 270 students on large institutional cookstoves. Previously they used four truckloads of wood per school term, now they only use one!
We have had a very beautiful and inspiring journey. We have seen and experienced a lot and we will not forget this trip anytime soon.
Do you also want to see the impact of your contribution with your own eyes next year? Then let us know that you are interested via the form to the right.