Biogas Transforms Rural Household’s Energy Supply

November 9, 2015

When Stanley Tapfuma Mudengezi was first introduced to biogas technology in August 2014, he dismissed it as a waste of time. He just could not picture how on earth it was possible to produce energy from a mixture of dung and water.

To make matters worse, when he finally accepted the idea, the site location of the biogas plant was abandoned – twice.

“At first, I had serious doubts about biogas digesters, I just did not believe that the technology would work from just mixing cow dung and water,” said Mr Mudengezi.

But a year later, his opinion has drastically shifted and he has become the leading proponent of the technology in Domboshava, a peri-urban area located approximately 30 kilometres, north of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.

Mudengezi explained that he feeds the plant with three 20 litre tins of water and cow dung. He currently owns 10 cattle. The biogas plant converts animal manure into small but precious amounts of combustible methane gas, known as biogas, through natural decomposition of organic material.

“We cook three times a day but we have never run out of biogas. It is indeed very useful for our energy needs plus we don’t have to cut down trees anymore,” said Mr Mudengezi.

The hearth fire located in the middle of the cooking hut at the Mudengezi household is now plastered over. Inivolata Mudengezi, 52, said that she plastered it over as soon as she began using a biogas cook stove.

“We use to buy firewood for 30 dollars a tonne but that’s now a thing of the past. The biogas cookstove is helping me to save on time. It’s also now quicker for me to prepare meals. My kitchen is now always clean and there is no smoke that hurts the eyes,” she said.

Mr Mudengezi added that the bio slurry which is produced by the bio digester has significantly improved his yield. A portion of land that used to produce six to seven bags of maize now produces 16 bags as result of the application of the slurry.

According to Chandi Mutubuki Makuyana, SNV’s renewable energy sector head, the biogas market in Zimbabwe is worth a staggering US 63 million, but much works needs to be done to promote the uptake of the technology. On average, it costs US 1,500 to construct a biogas digester.

Hivos Southern Africa hub is currently partnering with SNV, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to implement the project to increase the uptake of biogas technology in Zimbabwe.

The five-year Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas Programme aims to establish a vibrant biogas sector that will improve the living conditions and health of more than 67,000 households, especially benefitting women and children. The project follows a market-driven approach in promoting the dissemination of biogas technology

The project is being implemented within the scope of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative that seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, enhance energy efficiency and increase uptake of renewable energy.