Biogas in households to save environment and money
In the context of the ongoing environment month, the government is promoting the use of biogas at the household level. According to Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, the Minister of State in charge of Water and Energy, biogas is not only environment-friendly, it is also a cost-effective energy source.
“We believe that adopting biogas usage can reduce household expenses significantly, so it will secure sustainable livelihoods and at the same time protect the environment by reducing the use of wood or charcoal and causing less smoke,” the State Minister says. “And biogas systems produce excellent fertilizers for agriculture.”
Biogas has already been used in prisons for many years, as well as in some schools and hospitals, although there are plans to further increase the construction of biogas digesters at such institutions. The drive to expand it to families, especially rural ones which have sufficient animals to provide the required waste, fits in the government’s vision that social and the economic growth should be based on a more rational utilization of resources – and especially reducing the use of wood fuel, which is still used by a majority of the population.
The promotion of biogas in households will be made easier by the decentralization of environmental programs to the districts, which is also part of the environment month and should result in more green initiatives being taken by local authorities.
Already, local leaders have promised to sensitize the population on the usage of biogas so as to reduce their dependence on wood fuel, which is a major contributing factor in deforestation. In addition, says Protais Murayire, the mayor of Kirehe district, biogas is cheap, so in the long run people have everything to gain from it.
“We make a lot of time to sensitize people on this new program, since it is efficient, less costly and doesn’t degrade our environment,” Murayire explains.
However, Kirehe resident Ernest Karangwa has some doubts on the feasibility of family biogas installations, even though he recognizes their health and environment benefits.
“First you have to be able to build such a system, and then it requires a minimum quantity of waste from either cows or latrines, so personally I think it might be hard to make it work,” he says. “But since the government wants it, they will probably assist us to make it happen.”
And according to the national energy policy and strategic plan, which comprises the increased construction of biogas digesters in rural households, this will be facilitated by the one-cow-per-family program by providing cow dung and other waste to feed the digesters.
Which means killing two birds with one stone, because cows and their excrement are known to be a major contributor to the harmful greenhouse gasses.