Blog Els Rijke: Introduction to Biogas

23 december, 2009

Biogas is quite an investment for rural people. The smallest digester would cost around € 750. With some subsidy (almost € 300) provided through the programme and, as is expected in the near future, the possibility to take a loan, a digester can be acquired by many families.


Farmers have a number of reasons to invest in biogas. For many families the first motivation might be cost savings on wood and/or kerosene. Cooking on gas is very easy and fast. Smoke is removed from the kitchen, which is convenient and much healthier. On the household level, biogas has several other advantages: reduction of workload (esp. when firewood is being collected) and increased time available for other purposes, lightning from a gas lamp, improved agricultural production through the use of bio slurry, improved sanitation when toilets are attached. Not every family, and not everyone within each family, will experience these benefits the same.


The main beneficiaries of biogas are supposed to be the women, as they are the ones traditionally to be found in the kitchen, fetching water, etc. Besides making their lives easier, the programme also has opportunities to improve rural women’s positions and their livelihoods. Women will be actively involved as promoters of biogas and in other activities of the programme, they may find a job in the upcoming biogas business sector, and they can increase their income through biogas related enterprises.


It is my task within this programme to ensure that these socio-economic benefits and the concerns and needs of women are taken into account in all national programmes. Having worked previously with women’s rights organizations, I find it a challenge to combine a women’s and human rights perspective with an economic approach to development.


The families I visited in Mukono already started to experience the benefits from their digesters. One family bought all firewood, for approximately € 15 per month. With the digester they could fulfill all cooking needs without having to buy wood. Both families enjoyed cooking on gas. It takes much less time, it’s clean and easy. Interestingly, cooking becomes much more attractive to other members of the households: the men. So if I am lucky, my next visit I will even be served a fresh lunch, prepared by the men of the family…


Also read this blog from Jean Marc Sika: First milestone for the National Biogas Program in Burkina Faso

Els Rijke
Socio-Economic & Gender expert
Africa Biogas Partnership Programme

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