Biogas Project in Tanzania
In the non-urban areas of Tanzania, 80% of the population cooks over an open fire and is therefore dependent on wood or charcoal as a fuel for cooking. This figure translates to approximately 30 million people. Cooking over an open fire is inefficient and causes several issues including deforestation, smoke in the house and health issues. Tanzanian women often need to travel great distances to collect wood, an already scarce commodity. This posses a threat to their safety and impacts on their physical wellbeing as they carry wood on their backs for hours at a time.
Biogas Project in Tanzania
Hivos, in partnership with SNV Netherlands, introduced bio-digesters to Africa several years ago with the ‘Africa Biogas Partnership Programme’ (ABPP). The project uses the expertise gained from the bio-digester projects in Asia to assist Africa in beginning the transition to clean energy. The project stimulates the transition from cooking over an open fire using charcoal and wood, to the use of biogas as a non-harmful alternative. After being introduced in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, the programme has now also started in Tanzania, where rural farmers generally have a small amount of livestock in addition to their agricultural holding. Even though it seems simple, the transition from cooking over an open fire to cooking with can be a big step. Not only is there the investment in the bio-digester, but cooking over an open fire is strongly embedded in the culture and family life of Tanzanians. By using local campaigns that educate the community on the benefits of biogas as apposed to open fire cooking, the project is now gaining grounds in Tanzania.
How does it work?
The biogas technology provides farming families with clean fuel for cooking. The bio-digester also produces fertile, organic remains (“slurry”) that can be used as fertilizer on the farm. The digesters offer the duel benefit of saving on fuel costs and reducing the workload of collecting firewood. In addition, biogas is a replacement for the use of increasingly scarce firewood and ultimately reduces deforestation. The gas can also be used for lighting. Many families in Tanzania use kerosene lanterns for light, or face having no light in the evenings.
More than 12,000 families in Tanzania use biogas produced from cattle manure, which has shown positive results from the reduction in deforestation as families no longer rely on wood to fuel fires. There has also been a reduction on the use of charcoal, kerosene and artificial fertilizer due to the introduction of more environmentally friendly cooking means. The money saved by households that have adapted to this technology allows families to invest in other commodities like education, food and agricultural activities on their own farms.
In addition, there is a new industry sector for biogas operators and bricklayers. Women from the local communities have indicated that cooking with gas is much faster, while farmers state that the ‘slurry’ is a good fertilizer for rice and vegetables. And of course, there is a considerable reduction in carbon emissions.
The African Biogas Partner Programme is run by Hivos and supported by SNV, a Dutch development organization. It was launched with various subsidies, with the aim of making the project self-supporting over a number of years using carbon financing. In June 2015, the Hivos Climate Fund was able to have the project officially certified by the Gold Standard developed by the WWF. The biogas programme will now be made possible by the sale of these carbon credits. This guarantees sustainable progress and the continuation of the project and the employment it generates.