Diaries | Environment


The use of biogas to counteract the effects of global warming.
© Alessandro Grassani


Climate change is one of the challenges the world is facing and one of its causes is environmental degradation, resulting from deforestation, the use of chemical fertilisers and other polluting products, and poor waste management.

Preserving the environment may not be enough to reverse climate change, but it will certainly help us to manage its effects in a more sustainable way. That is why we at Mani Tese in Kenya are committed to promoting activities that reduce human impact on the environment.

Baringo County, in particular, is one of the areas identified as arid and semi-arid. Annual rainfall is often minimal and in most cases there is a prolonged period of drought. However, there are drought-tolerant trees in the area, such as acacia, which provides considerable help in controlling soil erosion.

Many people in this area depend on livestock farming, which is not a reliable source of income. Most people sell charcoal, which is also used as their main source of fuel for cooking, and cut down trees to make wood. Obviously, these activities have contributed greatly to the degradation of the environment.

As the area is crossed by a river and some seasonal streams, the residents also practice subsistence farming using chemical fertilisers, thus contributing to the further degradation of the land.

To counter these phenomena and at the same time generate more sustainable sources of livelihood, within the framework of the project ‘Agri-change: small business big opportunities. Development of agri-food chains in the Molo river basin’, co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, 25 farmers were selected and given some pigs to raise.

However, the main concern of most of the farmers involved in fattening the animals was waste management, as pigs are known to produce a lot of waste, which makes the environment dirty and causes air pollution. To solve this problem we have installed – for now at three of the farmers involved – a biogas plant to manage the waste in a more sustainable way. All 25 beneficiaries will soon receive the plant, which will improve not only sustainability but also energy supply, as the prices of petroleum products, including LPG, have increased in Kenya.

The clean energy from the biogas will be used for cooking, which in turn will reduce the number of trees cut down for firewood and charcoal. The women will also have more time for other activities as they can spend less time collecting wood.

The biogas plant also produces bioslurry, a liquid that comes out after the gas has been produced. This substance is a very good biological fertiliser which, when used as a fertiliser, will replace chemical fertilisers, which are harmful due to the acidity of the soil and the depletion of minerals in the soil. Soil degradation can thus be reduced or eliminated by switching to organic farming, which includes the use of tools such as manure, bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides.

The three beneficiaries who have already installed the biogas system are very happy because they can effectively manage their waste and enjoy a clean energy source for cooking.

“I am very happy with the provision of this biogas plant, which is a totally new technology for me,” said one of the beneficiaries during the installation. I did not know that pig and other livestock manure could be used to produce gas for cooking. I only knew about gas but didn’t use it because it was too expensive and my family is large. Now we can cook for everyone quickly and comfortably because we have two cookers. From today I will officially stop going to the forest to collect firewood”.

We are convinced that this activity will soon bear fruit by providing a sustainable opportunity for the production of heat for cooking food, and gradually will also be able to participate in mitigating the phenomenon of environmental degradation that has become rampant in almost all regions of Kenya, including Baringo.

Some photos of the installation of the biogas plant:

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