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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
26 mei 2007

Biogas for 20 million African households

Biogas technology is quite simple and very suitable in rural areas where there is excess manure, be it from chickens, cows, pigs or humans. This week, some 150 biofuel experts, industrialists, government officials and NGOs gathered in Kenya for the conference Biogas for Better Life - an African Initiative, to give a boost to energy and rural development. The initiative is supported by a consortium consisting of a great number of African countries (such as Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Benin, Nigeria, South-Africa, Mali, Senegal, Ghana), implementing and local organisations and donors (among them the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Norway and the Shell Foundation). Dutch partners of the initiative are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch development organisations SNV and Hivos.
Biogas is made from anaerobic digestion of agricultural and animal waste. The gas, a mixture of methane and CO2, is used for direct combustion in cooking or lighting applications, or to power combustion engines for motive power or electricity generation. A biogas plant can be operated by any family with at least two cows or four pigs, and will generate enough gas to power a stove and a lamp.
To build a biogas plant initially is quite expensive for low income households, about 300 to 400 Euro. But by saving on firewood the costs are recovered within a few years. The waste product can still be used as manure.
In various continents biogas programs are already operational. SNV for instance has several successful biogas programs in Asia. The biogas program in Vietnam won this year's Energy Globe Award. Since 2003, the programme has provided 25,000 Vietnamese families with cooking facilities, lighting and a toilet. It is being implemented by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the SNV and is being co-financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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