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Kenya, Western Province: Lifestraw's "Carbon for Water" program is "bogus" say critics

Published on: 13/07/2011

A project to use carbon credits to finance the free delivery of water filters to 4.5 million people has been sharply criticised by a US expert. Kevin Starr calls Verstergaard Frandsen's Carbon for Water initiative a "loopy funding scheme paired with a lousy public health solution". The company maintains it is providing a sustainable solution by guaranteeing free service and repair for the next 10 years.

A project to use carbon credits to finance the free delivery of water filters to 4.5 million people has been sharply criticised by a US expert. Mulago Foundation director Kevin Starr calls Verstergaard Frandsen's Carbon for Water initiative a "loopy funding scheme paired with a lousy public health solution" [1]. The company maintains it is providing a sustainable solution by guaranteeing free service and repair for the next 10 years.

Verstergaard Frandsen, in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, has delivered 900,000 of their LifeStraw Family water filters free-of-charge to households in the Western Province of Kenya through their Carbon for Water program. Using filters instead of boiling water with firewood will lead to significant reduction in carbon emissions, the company says. This earns them carbon credits that they can sell to recoup their US$ 30 million investment.

Kevin Starr claims that this is a "bogus application of carbon credits" because evidence shows that people in western Kenya, by and large, don’t boil their water [2]. “Anyone involved in this charade should be ashamed of themselves - especially the Gold Standard Foundation, which certified it [3]. The only rigorous study of the LifeStraw Family filter in a real life situation could not find any positive health impact, he added [4].

[1] Kevin Starr, Thirty Million Dollars, a Little Bit of Carbon, and a Lot of Hot Air, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 16 Jun 2011

[2] Kremer, M. ... [et al.]. (2011). Spring cleaning : rural water impacts, valuation and property rights institutions. Quarterly journal of economics ; vol. 126, no. 1 ; p. 145-205. doi: 10.1093/qje/qjq010

[3] Gold Standard - Grievances - Sustainable Deployment of the Lifestraw Family in Rural Kenya GS886

[4] Boisson, S. ... [et al]. (2010). Field assessment of a novel household-based water filtration device: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo. PLoS ONE ; vol. 5, no. 9. e12613. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012613

Related web site: Verstergaard Frandsen - Carbon for Water | Lifestraw®