As part of phase 2 of their Best Practices & Innovations (BPI) Initiative, which focused on the ways that international NGOs help build the capacity of local implementing partners working in food security and agriculture, InterAction has selected Heifer International's Uganda Domestic Biogas Program as one of the round 1 award recipients.
Our Uganda Domestic Biogas Program improves farmers' lives through access to cleaner, cheaper energy. Financial, labor and health costs of charcoal and firewood, in contrast to the availability of livestock manure in project communities, makes small-scale biogas units for cooking and lighting attainable and indispensible. Heifer will install 12,000 units over five years and help develop a market-oriented biogas industry. Through Heifer's Pass on the Gift model, farmers share with their neighbors technical knowledge in building, operating and maintaining biogas units. These skills can also serve as a source of income for participants who choose to build and sell the units.
At the individual level, biogas has provided a source of income in the form of employment opportunities that arise from the masonry work. Both men and women have been employed in the construction work which has boosted their incomes. In some cases biogas has been used as a source of energy for some small businesses like baking resulting in supplemental income. Due to the use of biogas there has been a reduction in the risk exposure to diseases that are related to indoor pollution. The program has also improved the expenditure trends due to the reduction of costs associated with fuel.
Biogas is a key element in many Heifer projects. By using manure to make fuel, project participants are able to stop cutting forests for firewood. Watch the video to see how biogas works in action.
At the household level, biogas has improved sanitation and hygienic conditions. This comes as a result of the animals' wastes not being dumped any longer. Similarly the bio-toilet connection also improves hygienic conditions in the home. Households that have animals and biogas have stood out to be more hygienic than those without biogas, meaning that even their per-capita expenditure on health is low. The generated bio-slurry has impacted the households in terms of there improved agricultural productivity. Bio-slurry has been proved to be a rich organic fertilizer which lasts longer than the more expense inorganic ones. Households have been able to increase their crop yields and feed their animals and fish through the use of bio-slurry. In some cases, households have sold their excess bio-slurry to colleagues, which becomes an additional source of income for the family. Because of the gender mainstreaming, there have been improved relationships due to the sharing of roles and responsibilities. With biogas-powered lighting, children now have the opportunity to read at night.
At the community level, biogas has enabled the communities to preserve their environment including the reduction of deforestation. In situations where communities would have resorted to cutting down trees in pursuit of charcoal and fire wood, they now use their animal manure as a source of energy for cooking and lighting. In some communities at-risk youths have been absorbed into the masonry work. Some have even started hardware shops as a result of the skills they acquired from the program. Companies, formed by some masons, have created additional employment opportunities in their community.