Christine, Climate Pal Logistic Coordinator, shares her experience

Co-created with EcoAct in 2011, Climate Pal develops energy efficiency and tree planting projects in rural Kenyan homes. Programs supported by Climate Pal are focused on fighting climate change while promoting environmental conservation and strong socio-economic benefits for locals. The first project was launched in the Embu District to provide a more sustainable cooking solution to households. The project has now extended to three districts in Embu County (2,800 km2), employs 30 local workers and is certified by the Gold Standard.

Christine Muthoni has joined Climate Pal in June 2014 and is now Logistic Coordinator. She manages cookstoves distribution and repair from warehouse to field, in addition to overseeing project monitoring.

How is climate change affecting Kenya?

Christine: Climate change has visible impacts in Kenya and Embu region. The rain seasons are particularly affected with significant changes. We usually expect long rains in April, but they are now very unreliable, whereas droughts are more and more frequent. Obviously, this has major consequences on agriculture and people have to rely either on drought resistant crops or on previous years’ stocks to survive, not to mention economic losses.

What is the most significant achievement for your team?

Christine: So far, 250,000 people have benefited from the project, exceeding our expectations! Above all, what has been most rewarding is to inspire a lifestyle shift in our community.

Thanks to this modern cookstove, wood use and harmful smoke are reduced by more than 50%. There are many benefits for women and children, who traditionally take care of wood collecting and cooking chores. First, it considerably improves their health, reducing disease and preventing fire hazards. Secondly, they save time and money, since there is only half the need for wood. With the time saved, children can focus more on educational activities.

Key to this project success is that the technology is affordable for rural populations. This is possible thanks to the fact that a Kenyan team produces the stoves with a local supply chain, and that carbon finance subsidies part of the price.

What were the challenges you faced?

Christine: Some communities are quite resistant to change. Therefore, we decided to improve our marketing tools to better raise awareness on the stoves benefits to local communities, making sure they understand their use to the full extent. Word of mouth has been a big part of the success. We believe a convinced, trained user is our best promoter!

Another challenge has been to build technical capacity in the team. Thanks to customer feedback and monitoring, we have been able to continuously improve the stove quality and its lifespan has now doubled!

What’s the future for Climate Pal?

Christine: We are looking to grow the project in other Kenyan communities and improve the livelihoods of an even broader number of people. The project monitoring confirms that we are on the right path, but what makes us even more hopeful is the beneficiaries’ warm welcome. In fact, it is always such a pleasure to visit them, as they celebrate our arrival with songs and dances. They are very appreciative of our work! Such moments, mixing work and human relations, are priceless for us.

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