Community Development, Kavango Zambezi TFCA, Simalaha Community Conservancy

Green innovation takes the Gold

Simalaha’s Community Cookstove Programme has been awarded the Gold Standard for a certified Carbon Credit future.

Simalaha Community Conservancy is a protected area of 180 000 hectares sitting at Zambia’s edge, and a vital building block in the reconstruction of key migration routes and wildlife dispersal areas within the biggest terrestrial cross-border conservation system in the world – the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Initiated by the Sesheke and Sekhute Chiefdoms, the Conservancy is a flagship of successful community-led conservation that leverages the responsible management and protection of natural resources and wildlife in a manner that benefits both nature and people.

Here, what started out as a hopeful environmentally-friendly cookstoves pilot project has now matured into a certified carbon asset management programme that promises to benefit the local wildlife, forests and communities whilst contributing to Zambia’s climate credentials as a nation.

These fuel-efficient cooking innovations require only a few small pieces of wood to boil water and cook family meals.

The programme, that aims to scale, improve and successfully implement a cookstoves programme for low-income housholds within Simalaha, was initiated by COmON foundation with the support of the African Stove Company (TASC) and Peace Parks Foundation. Commonland provides seed financing and programme management whilst Peace Parks implements the project on the ground.

Thus far, 10 000 cookstoves have been distributed that deliver both climate and sustainable development impacts. These fuel-efficient cooking innovations require only a few small pieces of wood to boil water and cook family meals, with much less smoke, thus contributing to cleaner air, improving health and living conditions, eliminating the burden of fetching firewood and saving precious time for women who previously needed to walk long distances gathering large amounts of firewood.

The benefits also extend to the health and restoration of Simalaha’s ecosystems: by reducing the consumption of wood and charcoal by up to 30%, deforestation can be turned around. In step with improved natural resource and energy usage, greenhouse gas emittance could also be cut by 80%.

In addition to these social and environmental wins, the project now also promises to help uplift people out of poverty through a new stream of income opportunity. The economic objective of this initiative involves turning any reductions in Greenhouse Gas emission into carbon credits, which can in turn be ‘sold’ for a monetary return to the communities. Now that Gold Standard – a  certification body focused on both quantifying and maximising the impact of climate and development activities – has registered the programme, the ecological integrity this signifies is crucial. In validating the energy efficiency of the cookstoves, it affords the programme a place in the voluntary carbon market, and a chance for the community to trade with businesses looking to offset their emissions. Not only will this offer the community premium returns on the investment seeded by Commonland, but it will also scale up benefits – by accounting for carbon footprints far beyond the conservancy.

We expect over 74 000 Voluntary Emission Reduction (VERs) carbon credits will be issued in 2022, and more to be issued the subsequent years. After the deduction of programme expenses the balance of the revenue generated from the sale of the carbon credits will be donated to the Simalaha Conservancy Trust to fund development initiatives identified by the communities living within the conservancy.

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