Adapting to a Changing Environment

African Christians Organization Network

Entry Overview

General Info
Mayeki Shaban
Email :
Organization Address: 
P.o Box 1284 Bungoma 50200
Bungoma, 50200
Population Impacted: 
Ecological Costs: 
Possible change of land use from unused land to agricultural land. Possible unintended consequences to areas where water hyacinth is being dried on the shores of Lake Victoria
Ecological Benefit: 
Removal of an invasive species from Lake Victoria. Increased biodiversity and abundance of fish (for Lake Victoria). Increase plant productivity on agricultural lands. Reduced deforestation.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Community reports. Sales reports (stoves, briquettes, organic fertilizer, biochar and/or charcoal). Number of Self Help Groups formed. Number of Rotating Savings and Credit Organizations (ROSCAs) formed. Number of people employed by stove manufacturing activity. Number of people employed selling stoves. Number of people employed making and selling briquettes. Number of people employed making organic fertilizer. Number of people employed collecting and selling biochar and or charcoal to as a cooking fuel 

Community/Social Cost: 
Volunteer time for planning and design of projects. Loans officers required to collect repayment for new stove purchases, stove manufacturing equipment and briquette making equipment. Wood and charcoal producers and sales staff losing revenue. Reduction in chemical fertilizer sales for local businesses
Community/Social Benefit: 
Increased organization of community groups. ACON has organized 350 legally registered Kenyan Self Help Groups. Reduced indoor air pollution. Reduced fuel costs for households. Improved garden and crop productivity as a result of biochar enhanced organic fertilizer applications. Improved access to Lake Victoria for local fishermen who are now unable to launch boats on to the water hyacinth infested waters. Reduced fertilizer costs
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit: 
Number of new Self Help Groups organized. Number of community members attending meetings. Number of stoves sold resulting from new capital for microfinance. Kilograms of fuel briquettes sold. Kilograms of organic fertilizer sold. Multiple new sources of income. Reduced incidents of respiratory illnesses from indoor air pollution. Increased household incomes from stove, briquette, organic fertilizer, and crop produce sales
Economic Cost: 

Job training and awareness campaign costs. Costs for community meeting bore by Self Help Groups. Costs of materials for stove production.   Each stove requires 1,200 Ksh (16 US$) in local materials to produce.  Costs for briquette making machines 

Economic Benefit: 

Additional income generated from stove manufacturing and sales, briquette making and sales, and organic fertilizer sales. Increased purchasing power for households. Increased number of jobs for local people. Increased crop productivity on biochar and organic fertilized lands resulting in increased income from produce sales. Lower costs for medicines for respiratory illnesses from indoor air pollution. Lower costs to the household for fuel purchases. Possible carbon offset credits for use of efficient and biochar generating stoves 

Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Kilograms of water hyacinth removed from Lake Victoria. Kilograms per acre of Increased crop yields. Kilograms of biochar enhanced organic fertilizer applied to Kenyan soils. Reduction of the number of kilograms of forest wood use. Kilograms of organic fertilizer produced and sold 

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

A major hurdle to enabling the sale of efficient cooking stoves is the problem with the women of the household not being able to afford a large lump sum purchase price for the stoves.  It is difficult for women to save funds for the stove in the household due to the demands of other stakeholders in the household.  Moreover, the savings generated by the more efficient cooking stoves require ownership and use of the stove to reduce wood purchase costs.  It seemed that the only way to enable women to have the use of the stoves without an upfront cost was to sell the stoves on credit.  However a credit program was difficult to get started.  These problems were resolved by invoking the Rotating Credit and Savings Association (ROSCA) model of enabling large ticket item purchases for poorer households.  Once this model was discovered and tested, many more stoves were being purchased by groups of women.  However, since the ROSCA model provides only one new stove to women of each ROSCA group per week, the pace of stoves sales, although better, was still quite slow.  ACON is now working with Opportunity Kenya Ltd. (OKL) to extend credit to the women who are organized in legal and registered (with the government of Kenya) Self Help Groups (SHGs).  Now all of the women in the SHG who wish to purchase a stove on credit can do so at the same time.  All of the women of the SHG help to ensure repayments are made on time by the women who have purchased stoves.  This is a form of “Social Capital” that can be animated by forming SHGs.  Although the partnership with Opportunity International is now only in the “Piloting” stage, ACON feels quite confident that this model will improve the number of stoves sold per month to women in poorer communities.   Furthermore, ACON is willing to set up its own facility to extend credit to briquette makers for the purchase of briquette making equipment and to stove manufactures for the purchase of the few hand tools required to become a stove manufacturer.

Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

African Christians Organization Network   adapted the following strategy to promote community benefits based on available resources and practices that are both effective and locally sustainable. These two characteristics, when standing alone, have little value.  To achieve significant impact at the community level, we have applied both of them.  Expanding these practices to neighboring communities and further reducing use of forest wood are the current focus.  The strategy to achieve effective and sustainable benefits rests on seven key project components, which are described below. The first component-presented (Integrated programming) is primarily concerned with effectiveness.  The remaining six (Full community participation, use of community participatory methodologies, appropriate and environmentally safe technology, gender fairness, targeting of children’s pedagogy, and partnership/with applicable government of Kenya departments) are all primarily concerned with the sustainability benefits.  Full Community Participation in All Project Activities   To ensure full community participation and strong sense of local ownership, ACON used   three key elements: the use of the PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal); community implementation of activities; and cost sharing.  Use of PRA- PRA is a recognized methodology for facilitating communities to fully participate in and control their own development.  It is a non-literate based methodology that insures all community members can, regardless of their educational background, fully participate.  This is especially critical in traditional societies where often the most influential community members are non-literate elders and where female literacy rates are lower than that of males.  To further ensure that PRA activities are fully accessible to all community members, the methodology emphasizes the use of locally available materials.  Project staff simply facilitates community members through a self-directed process of problem identification followed by identification and analysis of locally feasible interventions.  PRA continues to be used extensively during initial community mobilization activities.  This is to ensure that fully community participation in decision-making occurs at the immediate start of each village’s activities.  Communities select representatives (PRA teams) to use participatory tools –such as community mapping, transect walks through community, household discussions, timelines, and collection of technical data, local institutional analysis, problem ranking and decision-making matrix –to thoroughly investigate and document results for the whole community, local needs and capacity to intervene. The key element here is the immediate and full involvement of the community in the decision making process.   Utilization of Community Participatory Methodologies   As the above section noted, PRA is a core programme methodology.  The project also emphasize two additional interactive, participatory methodologies, the UNDP/World bank’s Self-esteem, Associative- strength, Resource-fullness, Action-planning and Responsibility (SARAR) methodology,  and the Child- to –child methodology.  Project staff utilizes PRA methodology when facilitating community members on project activities while SARAR methodology and concept is utilized in building communities capacities in management of alternative energy resources and facilities. PHAST process is used in facilitating hygiene promotion in the community. Both PHAST and SARAR process enable community members to identify problems and provide feasible responses.  This provides critical assistance to community volunteers with limited educational and teaching background to become facilitators.  The use of this non-directive mode of communication facilitates the community change process.  A primary school program advocates the use of improved efficient cooking stoves and biomass fuel briquettes instead of wood for households.  Such early Childhood education engages the children in the participatory process.  This methodology emphasizes the use of fun, interactive activities such as mimic, games and singing as means of teaching children both basic health messages and the means of effectively sharing what they learn with their friends and family.

Climate hazard of concern: 
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

The primary benefits to the ecosystem realized by the use of water hyacinth briquettes and pyrolytic biochar producing stoves are as follows:  1. The removal of an invasive species from Lake Victoria that has already caused the loss of nearly half of the lakes aquatic species.  By removing the water hyacinth (at least where this is possible economically) the lake regains its health and vitality. 2. Amendment of biochar into soils results in a soil/plant relationship that increased the plant’s resilience to drought conditions that are a direct result of global warming and climate change. 3. Increasing the use of organic fertilizers reduces the need to purchase chemical fertilizers, further offsetting the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere and further mitigating the causes of climate change. 4. Use of highly efficient cooking stoves reduces the emissions of CO2, reduces deforestation, and reduces the emission of black carbon to the atmosphere (also considered to be a significant cause of global warming).  All of the above activities are human interventions that provide hope for a sustainable future for Kenyan’s. 

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the ecosystem affected?: 

Non-wood biomass and improved cooking stoves (Moto stove) can be used as a fuel for cooking food and heating water in the household, however, in order to harness this energy source the biomass must be densified into fuel briquettes.  Biomass briquettes made from crop residuals, and other organic wastes can then be used with efficient cooking stoves to reduce incidents of respiratory illness resulting from indoor air pollution and, moreover, provide a valuable soil amendment material that reduces crop sensitivity to increasing drought conditions in Kenya.

How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

It is important for any intervention that is intended to result in greater climate change resilience of the ecosystem and of human activities and livelihoods to have two necessary ingredients:  Local Resources that make the intervention possible and Proven Practices that have demonstrated effectiveness towards increasing the ecosystem’s resilience to climate change.  Both of these ingredients must exist, one will fail without the other.  ACON has demonstrated both of these to exist.  One of the most important “Local Resources” is the people and the motivation of the people to take action.  ACON has also demonstrated that both of these are possible through mobilizing many entrepreneurs to engage in stove production from local materials and briquette production businesses (using local biomass and water hyacinth from Lake Victoria as a feedstock).  There are currently 60 fuel briquette entrepreneurs receiving mentoring from ACON in Kenya.  Of these, 68% are female and 32% are male.  It has been observed across the programme that females are generally more involved in businesses that require a low capital start-up, are immobile in production at a micro scale, and deal in products that they can sell to immediate markets, which could partly explain their greater number in briquette businesses.  Most of the businesses have started up in the last 6-7 years, reflecting the view that the industry is just beginning to flourish.  98% of businesses in the programme were introduced to briquettes and improved cooking stoves (Moto stoves), either as a new business venture or as a diversification from their existing product line, whereas the remaining 2% were already in existence.  Almost all of the businesses are located in Western Kenya region.  These areas were chosen by the mobilization team for recruitment of entrepreneurs due to the high potential here for the industry to spread. 

How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?: 

ACON’s stove, briquette, and organic fertilizer production programs empower the community to take action to mitigate the impacts of climate change on food security, energy security, and conservation of forests which have an indirect mitigative impact on fresh water resources.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

Through ACON’s programs, communities learn to take a proactive approach to the problems that beset them.  The PRA and other participatory methods employed by ACON can be used repeatedly by the community to resolve specific climate related issues.  For example, as a result of the invasiveness of water hyacinth on Lake Victoria, many fishermen have lost their livelihoods as a result of the inability to lauch a boat onto the lake and the loss of fish stocks to the impacts of eutification of the lake.  This positive action results in restoring livelihoods and a sense of empowerment to communities.  The increased resilience of plants to drought conditions as a result of using biochar enhanced organic fertilizers is a very strong example of this.

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

Yes. See above. The formation of social networks is a very strong component of ACON’s approach.  The use of participatory methods links directly into “Local Knowledge” to arrive at community lead solutions to environmental issues.

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