Everything is connected

Everything is connected

10 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.

From a balcony I look out over a street in Bangalore. We have just returned from our visit to Samuha, the parent organization of one of our local partners in India: JSMBT. It is my first working visit as a new fund manager for FairClimateFund. Arrived in Bangalore early this morning by night train from Raichur, it takes some getting used to being back in the city. I think back to Raichur, a beautiful region with green rice fields, red fields with chili peppers drying in the sun and beautifully decorated Indian trucks packed with just harvested cotton.

The words of TP, founder of Samuha, still echo in my head: “In the 27 years that Samuha has worked in the region we have done little harm.” This is what the man who has been doing good work with Samuha for so long in the area where our cooking oven project is running. Working in these areas is complicated, the diversity of problems is great, the culture is complex, especially for an outsider. Poverty, caste discrimination, the disadvantaged position of women and lack of knowledge about basic things such as hygiene and health. But also an increasingly erratic climate, which makes growing crops more difficult. The rice actually needs until April to grow, but the water supply stops in mid-March. Samuha has been working on these problems for almost 30 years. How exactly does the cooking oven project contribute to this?

The Chulika traditionally and spiritually embraced
During our field visits we visit people’s homes and it becomes clear to me how much the women appreciate the Chulikas (as the cooking ovens are called). Collecting wood needed for cooking normally takes a lot of time and is hard work, with women also often harassed by men. In addition, cooking takes a long time and women sometimes sit in a smoky kitchen for a few hours, resulting in coughing and burning eyes. The Chulika greatly reduces wood consumption, cooking is faster and there is much less smoke development. The benefits are obvious.

Cooking plays such a central role in the lives of women here and I find it special to see how the women have embraced cooking at the Chulika. Nagaraj, an employee of JSMBT, tells me how the ovens are installed. A Puja, a Hindu ritual, is performed during which the traditional oven is banished and the Chulika is inaugurated. The Chulika is now the new central point in the house for women. The white stripes on the side of the Chulika symbolize followers of Shiva: the symbol in Hinduism for, among other things, the promotion of well-being. The red dot is the Tilika, many Hindus also wear this dot on their forehead. Placing this dot symbolizes a warm welcome and expression of respect. The rituals mean that the Chulika is culturally and spiritually embraced by the women and that is quite special. During a meeting with Chulika users, one of the women says that she has even adjusted the size of her chapati – Indian bread – to the size of the Chulika. If that isn’t a sign of adoption.

A meeting that I will not soon forget was the community meeting in Huligudda on the square in front of the school. Through role plays and theater, the people of JSMBT provide information about climate change in a playful and interactive way, but also in the field of health through information about hygiene and they explain to people how they can use government facilities such as the old age pension. The five-year anniversary of the cooking oven project was also celebrated. Working on community building in this way is successful, with feeling and respect for local culture, traditions and relationships. People learn not only from the project staff, but also from each other.
Are we making a difference now? TP’s modest attitude may be appropriate. Much still needs to be done to improve the living conditions of women in particular. What I do see is that women here are genuinely happy with their Chulika and that this makes daily life just that little bit more pleasant. If this is the case for a large part of the 18,000 women we reach here, then that is quite something.

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.”