Co-op Insurance has been working with ClimateCare for more than 10 years, funding carbon reduction projects in the developing world that tackle poverty, improve health and protect the environment, helping people as well as the planet.
We wanted to find out what that means in reality, so our colleagues Laura, Debbie and Joe went to Ghana to see one of our carbon offset projects, Gyapa Stoves, in action, meeting the manufacturers, retailers and end users to find out more.
It’s the little things that make such a difference to the people making and using the Gyapa stoves in Accra, Ghana’s capital. The stoves – like two metal bowls stuck back-to-back – are more energy efficient than traditional stoves, reducing carbon emissions.
But it’s not just that that makes them so important. And it’s not even the cooking. It’s the fact that they’ve generated a whole economy, with the support of the project and businesses like Co-op Insurance.
“It’s an amazing story. From the people involved in the manufacturing of the stove to those who are using them to cook for their families, it’s a real success. ClimateCare and Relief International have created a whole industry that’s helping people earn a living and have a better life. And it’s such a simple piece of kit.”
Our team spent four days in Accra, meeting manufacturers and families, and spending time in the bustling markets, kenkey houses, chop houses and cafes, where the stoves are a crucial part of daily life.
Some 350 manufacturers and 500 local retailers benefit from manufacturing and selling the Gyapa stove, and with that comes hundreds of jobs. There have also been lots of apprenticeships, and, because the stoves are more energy efficient, people spend less on fuel, freeing them from fuel poverty.
The people who are benefiting also spoke to us about the health benefits as there is less smoke coming from the Gyapa compared to other stoves. It’s been pretty much win-win all round.
As for the manufacturers, the working environment is different to what we would see at home.
“The noise really hits you as you walk in – although it’s practically an open space covered in tarpaulin,”
says Laura about one of the manufacturers they visited.
“There were people with hammers shaping the stoves, others adding doors and handles and more painting them. All around us were dozens of the finished stoves – leaning against walls and stacked in corners.
The stoves are created from recycled metals and are manufactured by hand and nothing goes to waste.
“There’s recycling on a huge scale going on – we went to a scrap yard where another manufacturer is based – and every part of the car is used. The employees even sit on the car seats whilst they’re hammering out the stoves.”
There was also a chance to visit the Madina market to meet some of the retailers and also a trip to a ceramicist who makes the hand-thrown stove liners. And when we stopped for
food, many of the cafés and takeaway stands – like the Adom Chop Bar – were using the Gyapa stoves to make traditional Ghanaian dishes and soups.
Over at the Kenkey House, it’s a 4am start for Mama Irene and her team to prepare and cook kenkey – a Ghanaian staple which is similar to a sourdough dumpling – for their customers, their trusty Gyapa working overtime too.
And after a long day, there was also chance to spend time with a family – mum cooking a meal on the stove in time for her children coming home from school.
“The stoves mean jobs, an income, safer cooking and a way out of fuel poverty,”
“The benefits are so enormous. It was really humbling to see what a difference something so simple can have.”
The benefits of Gyapa
The traditional cookstoves or open fires that are used in the developing world – by around three billion people – cause air pollution, which in turn causes respiratory disease. Millions of tonnes of CO2 are generated, contributing to climate change.
Recent studies estimate that over 11,000 people die every day from these cooking methods – more than malaria and tuberculosis combined. In Ghana, an astonishing 84% of people use solid fuels like wood and charcoal for cooking.
Wood and charcoal account for 80% of domestic energy consumption in Ghana so demand is high which means prices for fuel are high, locking people into fuel poverty. And this demand puts huge pressure on Ghana’s remaining forest – deforestation is among the highest in Africa.
As the Gyapa uses 40% less charcoal than a traditional stove – it’s more efficient, fewer trees need to be cut down and it doesn’t emit smoke in the way more traditional stoves do, which brings both environmental benefits and less air pollution.
How carbon offsetting works
While carbon offsetting isn’t the solution to climate change on its own, it’s an important and immediate way to mitigate some of our unavoidable carbon emissions. It’s simple in practice: when you buy a home or car insurance policy from us, we fund a project that reduces carbon emissions.
That’s carbon offsetting.
So if an average car emits 2.4 tonnes of CO2 in a year, we can offset that impact by buying 2.4 tonnes of carbon credits from a project which reduces emissions.
By supporting projects like Gyapa Stoves, we can offset 10% of our new customers’ annual home energy* and car CO2 emissions as standard**, and we’re the only insurer to do this. We just think it’s the right thing to do.