Kampala, Uganda, May 22 2009. Hima Cement continued commitment to environmental conservation been demonstrated through its ongoing initiatives aimed at mitigating the effects of global warming.
A recent campaign under the company’s Green Schools Project currently under execution in 28 schools countrywide is expected to augment the 95,000 trees already planted under the programme. The project which started 2 years ago aims at inculcating a culture of environmental care among school children by involving them, their teachers and school communities in planting trees and nurturing them. Whilst the schools are actively involved in tree planting for their benefit, the effect on the environment is that the trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, thereby reducing the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere.
The Green Schools Project engages schools in planting and maintenance of 5000 trees provided by Hima Cement over a 2 to 3 year period. The trees once harvested benefit the school as a resource including renewable energy. The green schools are motivated to participate in the project because of the expected immediate benefits from the project but in the process, the culture of environmental care is communicated.
In addition to the provision of seedlings, additional motivators by Hima Cement to the schools include the construction of concrete water tanks of 10,000 litres to harvest rain water, construction of pit latrines, and provision of 3- seater desks. These improve the learning environment in schools and encourage commitment to the project.
Hima Cement’s Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Cerinah Zalwango said, “We strongly believe that tree planting will make a valuable contribution to the fight against global climate change, as well as providing wider environmental and social economic benefits. We further believe that inculcating this culture among school going children at a tender age and the community at large is a good step needed to make a difference globally.”
Cerinah added that, the company has joined global efforts of CO2 reduction by implementing a project dubbed “the Biofuels Project” in which the company has so far planted over 600,000 tree species of high calorific value that will at maturity be shredded and used as alternative fuel to at its cement plant located in Hima.
Since 2002 Hima Cement has been utilizing coffee and rice husks as alternate fuels to heavy fuel oil which is the primary source of heat energy for cement manufacture. A major installation to enable the company utilize alternative fuels effectively was completed in 2005 at a cost of UGX. 3.5 billion.
“Last year we achieved a substitution rate of 31% with alternative fuels an improvement from 28% the previous year. With the Biofuels project, we shall be able to substitute fossil fuels in our production process by a much higher percentage and save the environment significant CO2 emissions” comments Robert Tumwesigye the Production Manager at Hima Cement Plant
Apart from the CO2 reduction benefits, the alternative fuels program delivers socio-economic benefits that include:
- Additional incomes of up to 20 % of the value of coffee or rice to the community through the sale of agricultural wastes
- Job opportunities for Alternative Fuel suppliers – more than 150 people are directly employed in the collection, packaging and delivery of coffee and rice husks to Hima
- Utilization of agricultural and forestry biomass residues prevent uncontrolled burning and in dumping which was the case before
- Foreign exchange savings to Uganda through reduced fossil fuel imports which was about 2.4 million Euros in 2008.
CO2 emissions reductions achieved through the fuel substitution program.
Hima Cement recognizes that planting trees is hugely beneficial to the world in the face of accelerating climate change. There is now a strong belief that human activity is causing global warming due to activities that generated green house gases and the substantial reduction in the forest cover which acts as carbon sinks.
As part of its sustainability objectives Hima Cement also implements a Quarry Rehabilitation Program to restore its limestone mines to a “situation better- than- it found- them”. Hima is currently rehabilitating over 24 hectares of land previously mined.
To date over 40,000 trees have been planted in this area. Previously this area could only support invasive opportunistic species but it the biodiversity has been improved through the introduction of various exotic and indigenous species including casuarinas, acacias ,teak and mahogany.
“Due to our efforts under the Quarry Rehabilitation programme we have managed to attract a number of Uganda Kobs from Queen Elizabeth National Park, and a variety of bird species from the Rwenzori ranges. We are truly creating a biodiversity better than we found. Hima intends to create a mosaic of habitats that will appeal to a variety of species of flora and fauna from both these areas” says Dennis Kashero, the Commercial Manager Hima Cement