With the financing from FAI, we hired an ICT officer who supported the realization of this objective. We bought ICT equipment and installed internet services. All programmes, projects and departments were connected to the internet. Almost all staff received official email addresses. This enhanced communication and sharing of information. Before this, a lot of print and photocopying was done to store, transfer, secure and share information. Our document files were bulging every day. After the installation of computers, the internet and the training of staff on the use of ICT, online management and sharing of information improved drastically reducing the use of printed and photocopied documents. For example, 80% of the administration team documents are now shared online. Before, every month, they used an average of 2.5 kilograms of A4 80 GSM papers with programmes and departments using much more. Research estimates show that an average office of 10-15 employees uses an amount of printing paper every year that equals chopping down 18 large trees. St. Martin CSA and L’Arche Kenya have about 100 staff.
Most of these papers were not reused or recycled. They were burnt! Burning paper is not environmentally sound because during burning particles and gaseous air pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere. When the waste paper decays, it emits one of the greenhouse gases known as methane. Furthermore, burning or composting the waste paper produces carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases trap the heat in Earth’s atmosphere, which causes climate change (Catdi.com). Additionally, toner and ink used in printing contribute to environmental problems. According to Laikipia County Development Plan 2018-2022, the mass of waste generated in Nyahururu per person per day lies between 250g to 1000g with an average of 450 g per person per day and its density varies from 100kg/cubic metres to 600kg/cubic meters. Waste reduction is a fundamental part of any solid waste management plan. Furthermore, from October 2021, we stopped printing payslips but share them online.
According to The World Counts website, the environmental effects of paper production include deforestation, the use of an enormous amount of energy and water as well as air pollution. The Website observes that paper accounts for around 26% of total waste in landfills. World Counts contends that producing 1 kilo of paper requires 2-3 times its weight in trees, and 10 litres of water are needed to produce a single A4 sheet of paper. Each ton of recycled paper can avoid the use of 17 trees, 1,440 litres of oil, 2.3 cubic meters of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy and 26,500 litres of water.
These are important statistics as many of the population targeted by St. Martin CSA and L’Arche Kenya lack access to clean water for household use or connectivity to electricity and they live in climate fragile ecologies. For example, 25.3 % of households in Laikipia County need an average of 5-14 minutes, 44.7% need an average of 15-29 minutes and 6% need over an hour to reach the nearest water point. Through FAI support, the administration of St. Martin CSA alone is saving around 25 litres of water every month! The small contribution made by the Path Towards Autonomy project in reducing the demand for printing and photocopying papers will help restore and protecting nature.
These small actions can fill the gaps in COP26 climate action. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his wrap up message to the conference said that the commitment taken at COP26 was an important step but not enough. “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero”.
We will capitalize on the investment made on ICT through the Path Towards Autonomy project to reduce printing by 30% every year and move to almost zero print in 5 years for all routine documents.
We applaud the partnership we had with Fondation Assistance Internationale, Switzerland, for delivering a positive unintended outcome that is of global priority.