Cow dung, cooking and karma

Cow dung, cooking and karma

11 Apr 2018

Climate change is one of them
the biggest challenges of
this moment. Fortunately, we can
we do something about this, but
then we have to get in now
take action!

Your company can reduce CO₂ emissions and offset remaining emissions with projects that invest in cleaner cooking methods. FairClimateFund invests in two projects in India: a biogas project and a project where efficient cooking stoves are distributed. These projects significantly reduce CO₂ emissions and reduced smoke development leads to an improved living environment. There is also 70%-100% less wood consumption, which protects forest areas and means women spend less time gathering wood.

On Saturday afternoon we drive from the headquarters of our other local partner ADATS to Bandopalli, a small village in the Bagepalli district. The land is barren and dry with gigantic boulders that appear to be randomly placed across the landscape. On the narrow road, our driver regularly has to avoid oxen pulling wooden carts. You seem to go back in time here. We regularly drive past bright green rice fields that form a beautiful contrast with the rest of the landscape.

Arriving in Bandopalli, we are invited to see how people use the biogas plants that have been installed here through a collaboration between ADATS, BCS and FairClimateFund. Biogas plants are tanks built into the ground that contain cow dung and other organic waste. Het methaangas dat na verloop van tijd vrijkomt, loopt via een bovengrondse slang naar het huis en is verbonden met een gastoestel.

At one of the households a demonstration is given of how the stove works and we are offered hot Chai tea. The lady of the house, Annasayama, says: “The big advantage is that we no longer have to walk so far for firewood. My eyes also bother me less and I cough less. Moreover, the walls of the house remain nice and white and the pots nice and clean. I don’t have to clean so much anymore!” She proudly shows us outside the installation and of course the cows that produce the manure. She briefly stirs the ‘slur’, the residual product that comes from the biogas plant after the gasification process. Volgens Annasayama is deze ‘slurrie’ perfect om het land mee te bemesten, omdat het mooi glad en vloeibaar is en een betere oogst geeft.

In the next village we look at a number of other installations and soon all the curious villagers come to see what is going on. After the inspection of the installations, we sit together in the village with the users of the installations. Among them are a number of biogas workers. These women are responsible for monitoring the installations in their village and neighboring villages and can carry out minor maintenance and repairs. Rajama is a proud biogas worker and says that her work has earned her more respect from other people in the village. Women meet monthly and talk about the biogas plants, but also about all kinds of other matters. We hear a story about a woman who told us during a group session that she was being abused at home. The other women then went to her house together and made it clear to the man that this had to stop. This turned out to be very effective.

The next day we are invited again to a family to drink Chai tea. We start talking and we are curious whether the family understands why we are here. Why do we in the West invest in clean cooking here? It is clear that they understand that less smoke is better for human health and the environment. But is clean cooking only about CO₂ savings and health? Of course that is important, but there is more. Because women actively participate in the projects, they learn a lot and become more assertive. They gain more self-confidence, respect and their status increases. This is a fundamental change that leads to stronger communities. That is an essential step towards sustainable change. The lady of the house says that she finds it special that there are people in her house who she normally only sees in films and she likes that we help each other. Everything is connected, because what we do on one side of the world affects the other side and vice versa. I also find that very special. Karma flashes through my thoughts; the idea that good actions have good consequences and vice versa. Perhaps in that realization lies the answer to the increasing challenges of a changing climate.

Gert Crielaard, Fund Manager

FairClimateFund always takes the CO₂ footprint of its trips into account as much as possible. We visit our projects a maximum of once a year to discuss progress with our local partners. We always compensate our (project) trips with our Fairtrade Carbon Credits.