community member using her improved cookstove

Utsil Naj overcomes adversity caused by COVID-19

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After a year of challenges, the improved cookstove programme in Mexico and Central America is ready to be revamped.

Our improved cookstove programme, Utsil Naj, has provided support to rural communities in Mexico and Central America since 2012 but last year proved to be the most challenging. For the beneficiaries of these communities, 2020 brought many difficulties. This is because of the health crisis produced by COVID-19 and the intense hurricanes that hit the area.

These conditions affected all the field activities that Microsol had planned with our local partners. In addition, the number of improved cookstoves has diminished due to COVID-19 and natural disasters that coincided. For this reason, Microsol began 2021 with a sense of urgency to resume field activities as soon as possible.

Two parallel processes.

The Utsil Naj programme is undergoing a renewal process to guarantee its continuity in the coming years, in addition to the annual verification activities. In other words, on field activities right now include the renewal of the programme and the annual verification.

The renewal process involves updating the design and documentation of each project within the programme. This means that the indicators used to measure emission reductions and the impact on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are updated. This process also includes the visit of an independent auditor who must review the collected data before presenting it to Gold Standard for certification.

One crucial fact about the renewal of carbon programmes is that they occur once every 7 years. However, the Gold Standard recently updated its rules to require that programmes are renewed once every 5 years.  The process of renewing a programme includes a baseline monitoring campaign. These campaigns target a representative sample of the intervention areas in each project, among families that do not necessarily use improved cookstoves.

In contrast, the monitoring campaigns for each verification are carried out annually in communities where there are users of improved cookstoves. In addition, they correspond to the period in which new carbon credits are issued. Subsequently, the credits from each verification correspond to the emission reductions calculated from improved cookstoves use during that period.

This year’s field activities

Utsil Naj has projects in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Each project has the support of one or more local partners who are in charge of executing the field activities in each country.

The project in México has the support of three local partners in six different regions: Sonora (AURA), Mexico and Michoacán (GIRA), Oaxaca, Veracruz and San Luis de Potosí (FPP). The baseline campaign was carried out after resuming with field activities earlier in the year. As a result, our partners were able to finish this campaign by sampling the necesary communities.

Regarding the monitoring campaigns, Utsil Naj Mexico is in their third verification. Our partner FPP was able to finish this campaign in November. In the case of GIRA and AURA, they are in the process of completing the monitoring campaign. Unfortunately, both partners reported problems locating and contacting the beneficiaries. As a result, this lengthened the monitoring process. However, we overcame these difficulties during the last months of the year, and in December, both partners were able to conclude the monitoring campaign.

Unlike the project in Mexico, the one in Guatemala and Honduras are in their second verification. Nevertheless, some roads had restricted access due to the rainy season in September and October. For this reason, our partner in Guatemala, Ecocomal, was only able to finish with field activities in December.

In Honduras, our partner Ecopan completed the activities necessary for the second verification and renewal of the programme. In general terms, they reported no problems during this process. Unfortunately, due to the natural disasters that hit the area last year and the infections caused by COVID-19, the number of families served by the project has been reduced. We are looking for alternative ways to support affected families. Learn more about our community project if you want to help these communities.

 

“We use the stove every day. now there is less smoke in the house, we use less firewood, and the food cooks quicker. We save money buying gas because we hardly need to use it”

Josefina Carbajal Esquivel

Turcio Community – State of Mexico

 

 

Upcoming activities.

Regarding the program’s renewal process, this involves updating the design and documentation of each project. In addition, the renewal process includes updating different indicators, the visit of an auditor to the communities, and the subsequent review of the documentation by Gold Standard. The renewal process is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

Regarding the second and third verification of each project, respectively, the information gathered by our local partners is processed. After that, the corresponding actions to complete the verification will need to be completed. This includes an audit and review by Gold Standard. Once this process is done, the corresponding carbon credits will be issued at the end of 2022.

Despite these advances, there are still many challenges faced by these families. Climate change intensifies each year, and rural communities are the most affected by unpredictable weather patterns. That is why we need people and organizations aware of the climate crisis and looking for innovative ways to reduce our global carbon footprint.

If you are one of them, write to us at partnerships@microsol-int.com to tell you more about the social and environmental impact of the Utsil Naj programme.

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