making the carbon market work for poor communities

Basa Magogo

The Basa Magogo technique was named after a community member of eMbalenhle near Secunda, South Africa. Basa Magogo means "Light up, grandmother!"

This project introduces an alternative ignition technique to households that results in an efficient and clean burning of coal. This leads to a reduction in the emission of pollutants that are harmful to health of more than 80%, and a reduction of 30% – 50% in the quantity of coal that is used. Consequently, the same reduction in the emission of greenhouse gasses is achieved.

The implementation of the project has significant benefits:

  • Savings in purchasing coal have been well documented and are on average R608 per household per year.
  • Savings in health costs are more difficult to quantify, but it is estimated to be at least 10 times more. All residents, including those who do not use coal, experience cleaner air and much better health, but the users of this method benefit the most.
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 1.3 ton of CO2eq per household per year.
  • Improvement of general quality of life for households, such as improvement in visibility, avoidance of solid waste, possibility to dry laundry outside, and time savings.

The project is operational in several communities in Gauteng, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga, and is registered as a Voluntary Gold Standard project. Nova plans to deliver an approximate total of 450 000 VERs between 2010 and 2019.

As a technique, Basa Magogo is quite simple: instead of starting the fire with paper and wood at the bottom and then adding coal on top, the opposite procedure is followed. That is, the paper and wood is placed on top of the coal, and the fire burns from the top downwards. However, the only way that communities can be convinced to adopt the Basa Magogo method on large scale is by direct demonstration, person to person. Preferably, these demonstrations should be conducted in small groups of 5-10 persons in order to create a relaxed atmosphere where people are free to interact.

This project addresses three of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals:

  • End Poverty and Hunger
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Child Health


This picture shows the effect of using the Basa Magogo technique. The brazier on the left is lighted according to the traditional technique, resulting in lots of smoke. The brazier on the right hand side is lighted at the same time with the alternative technique. Smoke is almost absent.

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