Due to power shortage last night, I had a candle lit dinner, watched a movie for about 30minutes before my laptop needed to be charged and was in bed by 8:00 pm. There was no power when I got up in the morning either. That meant I couldn’t make any tea or fry an egg on my electric cooker. Luckily I had some fresh mangoes and avocado’s from the nearby market so a fruit salad held my tummy until I got to work. (Thank God for the African 10:00am tea culture).
I always think about how my life is so dependent on the convenience
of electricity and how many without access to power go about their day to day
activities – firewood, charcoal and kerosene for cooking, candles, kerosene
lamps and a torch/flashlight for light. Entertainment, your family members had better be good story tellers. I once read that only 16% of Kenya is on the power grid and you can always tell when the 16% are on power rationing in Kenya thanks to social media status updates.
During my last few weeks with Heifer International Uganda – I’ve got to learn and see how poop provides an alternate source of fuel through Biogas Technology. The 5-year biogas program implemented by Heifer Uganda is supported by HIVOs and SNV (Netherlands).
Human waste ranks #1 or best quality of biogas production and organic fertilizer. The biggest challenge is people’s perception and the assumption that is it toxic, which it isn’t. It’s followed by #2 pigs and #3 cow dung.
Biogas formation is a chemical process whereby micro-organisms ferment slurry to generate mainly methane gas whose chemical property is utilized to generate both light and heat energy. You need at least 2 cows to get the job done.
Fresh cow dung and urine mixed with water in 1:1 ratio provide raw materials in fermentation chambers using…drum roll for high school biology…anaerobic
The gas that collects is piped to the home for both light and cooking.
Although the initial costs for constructing a biogas plant is high, the benefits are a worthy investment.
- Reduction is use of firewood means reduced deforestation and respiratory related diseases from the smoke while cooking (my Kenyan friends if you’ve been to shags, you know what I’m talking about)
- The organic manure (bioslurry) increases crop production and can be $old for income. In addition the money saved from purchase of firewood/ kerosene can be invested elsewhere. After using biogas for 1 year, Mrs. Gogo recently purchased indoor plumbing equipment for her home with the savings.
- Job creation
The students at Mbale Secondary School has a few biogas questions for me earlier this week and I’m happy to have attended a training and visited with the farmers since I was able to confidently answer them. It’s exciting that with the field trips I’m working on they get to see the technology they read about in books!
Lastly, as we left Mr. Joshua’s home there was a little girl about 8-10years who was sick and laying down in the living room. Her grandmother (Mr. Joshua’s wife) would periodically put cold water on her tummy to reduce her fever (I guess). As we were leaving, we dropped grandma and little girl by a clinic that was about 5 minutes away.
Last week during a Training of Trainers hosted by the Biogas staff, I met Mr. Joshua and asked how his little grandchild was doing. Sadly, she passed away at 3am from Malaria, about 12hours after we dropped her off at the clinic.
From my previous post about mosquitoes – I did get malaria prevention medicine last month.
Stay healthy, safe and energy efficient!