Hivos Southern Africa Hub and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation hosted ‘Biogas Day’ to showcase this technology as part of the Zimbabwe Clean Energy Week, which ran from September 28 to October 2 to promote the uptake of clean energy in Zimbabwe.
Biogas is a form of clean, renewable energy produced by fermenting biomass such as plant material, livestock manure and other degradable waste. When the decomposition process occurs in an enclosed environment, the gas it releases can be captured and used as a natural fuel source. The slurry left over from this process is an excellent organic fertiliser.
Since 2012, Hivos and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation have been implementing the Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas Programme, a market-based programme aimed at stimulating the adoption of biogas technology in rural areas. This programme is implemented in partnership with the Department of Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development.
A recent study by University of Zimbabwe’s Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) revealed that of the 13.1 million people in Zimbabwe, about 8 million or 60 per cent, have no access to electricity and are still using traditional sources of energy, mainly firewood for cooking.
“We need to look for innovative solutions to help the bulk of the population residing in rural areas access modern forms of energy,” said Minister of Energy and Power Development, Sam Undenge in the keynote address.
“We cannot continue to think that it is normal for the bulk of the population to continue using firewood, more so when our forests are dwindling. We are also all aware that burning firewood comes with major disadvantages, namely the health hazards, ecological disruptions resulting in climate change, environmental pollution as well as the burden of labour that is borne by mainly women and children, in particular the girl child who spends more time looking for firewood.”
He added that lack of modern forms of energy reduced livelihood opportunities of rural households.
“Access to modern forms of energy can indeed unlock a lot of potential in rural areas and other areas deprived of such energy. With modern energy, people can improve the performance of existing enterprises, venture into new enterprises, create employment and improve incomes, thus changing the face of rural areas,” said Undenge.
The five-year Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas Programme aims to establish a vibrant biogas sector that will benefit more than 67,000 households. The project follows a market-driven approach in promoting the dissemination of biogas technology.
Hivos Southern Africa Hub Director, Tanja Lubbers, emphasised that the ZDBP’s emphasis on a market-based approach makes the programme unique and different from efforts made in the past to promote biogas.
“The programme’s premise on market approaches, where rural households express demand for the technology, now goes further to show their commitment because they are investing their own resources in the installation of the technology. By doing so, they intend their investment to work for their benefit,” said Lubbers.