Biogas Offsetting Project in Tanzania
In rural Tanzania 30 million people (80% of the population) cook over an open fire, requiring wood or charcoal as fuel. This figure translates to approximately 30 million people. Cooking on open fires is inefficient and fuels several issues including deforestation and health issues associated with smoke inhalation. Tanzanian women often need to travel great distances to collect wood, an already scarce commodity. This poses a threat to their safety and impacts on their physical wellbeing as they carry wood on their backs for hours at a time.
Hivos, in partnership with SNV Netherlands, introduced bio-digesters to Africa several years ago with the ‘Africa Biogas Partnership Programme’ (ABPP). Our biogas offsetting project in Tanzania uses the expertise gained from bio-digester initiatives in Asia to stimulate the transition to biogas as a clean energy alternative to charcoal and wood.
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 been started in Tanzania, where rural farmers generally have a small amount of livestock in addition to their agricultural holding. While cooking over an open fire is strongly embedded in the culture and family life of Tanzanians, the local campaign educated communities on the benefits of biogas in order to make the switch to this cleaner, more efficient alternative
Our Biogas Offsetting Project in Tanzania revolves around biodigesters that provide farming families with clean fuel for cooking as well as a fertile organic slurry (a bi-product), which can be used as natural fertiliser. 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 scarce firewood, fighting 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 have access to biogas produced by our biogas offsetting project in Tanzania. This has shown positive results in terms of fighting deforestation as families no longer have to rely on wood to fuel fires. There has also been a reduction in the use of charcoal, kerosene and fossil fuel-based fertilisers due to the introduction of more environmentally friendly cooking alternatives. The money saved by households that are using this technology allows them to invest in education, food and other 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 fertiliser for rice and vegetables. And of course, there is a considerable reduction in carbon emissions.
The African Biogas Partner Programme by Hivos is supported by SNV, a Dutch development organisation. 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 officially certify biogas offsetting project in Tanzania by the Gold Standard, which was 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.