As I rode through the city of Kisumu, as jet-lagged as I was, I was kept awake by a fun-loving driver who thought it was imperative to get to know Kisumu. As we journeyed through the Western Province, I began to imagine how many of the township people have access to safe drinking water. By the time we arrived in at Kakamega, I had stored in my ‘brain document' questions to ask, contributions to make, and how to satisfy my curiosity by interacting with the many people that are benefitting from the Carbon for Water project.
Carbon for Water—nice concept! LifeStraw Family—fantastic idea—but how do they all fit in together? How do they work? How will the people of Western Province, especially the women, feel about not having to boil water using firewood and purifying with a filter instead? How would they feel the impact of LifeStraw water purification on their health and time? How involved is the government of Kenya through its Ministry of Public Health? How do carbon credits work? What does this initiative mean to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals? How can we connect all the dots of all the MDGs in relation to global partnership, environmental sustainability, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, gender equality and women empowerment, maternal health, reduction of child mortality, education, and poverty alleviation with safe drinking water and reduction of carbon emissions as public health issues?
In Kakamega with Rachel Cernansky, the other Women Bloggers Deliver winner, we worked through the details of the campaign as we were debriefed by Elisabeth Wilhelm. The Carbon For Water project in Kakamega will cost over 30 million USD with distributions of LifeStraw water filters reaching nearly one million people in five weeks with 4,000 community workers and 4,000 transporters involved. All in all, 4.5 million people will benefit! This project will be run for ten years and families will be offered free replacement of the LifeStraws when they wear out. Vestergaard is committing all these efforts and finances without collecting a single dime from the beneficiaries but with the hope that carbon emissions will be drastically reduced and Vestergaard Frandsen gets paid through carbon credit!
Today is a beginning for me: to learn more, to work with this amazing team, to critically look into how deforestation of local forests will be addressed, how carbon offsets will pay off for the entire planet, how linking public health with carbon emissions by Vestergaard Frandsen will change things for the better here in Kenya, and how it will improve the quality of women’s lives and their families.
Tomorrow is when I join the Vestergaard Frandsen staff on the campaign trail, and it will all start at 6:30AM in the morning, time to get some sleep.