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Monday, July 15, 2024

Chimanimani embraces biogas

Story by Tamuka Charakupa

RURAL communities in Chimanimani have embraced the use of biogas as an alternative source of energy, providing relief to women who were struggling with fetching firewood for domestic use.

The adoption of biogas as a source of energy is increasingly becoming popular in the country, especially in rural communities on the back of the modest growth in livestock farming.

In Chimanimani, biogas generated from cow dung is replacing fuels that are being used for domestic energy needs such as firewood.

58-year-old, Obvious Tsandukwa from Nenhowe and other fellow villagers bear testimony to the impact of biogas in their community where they are also making use of slurry as organic fertiliser replacing chemical products.

“Over the years we only used cow dung as manure but now it is giving us cooking energy and lighting for our houses. This is a project which should be rolled out across all rural communities so that we utilise our waste,” said Tsandukwa.

Another villager, Mrs Lillian Mbire said, “Gone are the days when our kitchens were inhabitable with smoke while cooking. We have been served from walking long distances to fetch firewood all we do now is feed our digesters with cow dung straight from our doorsteps.”

The net effect is a decline in rampant cutting down of trees which was also contributing to increased flooding in the area.

“Biogas is fast and reliable. We no longer struggle with firewood and this does not get affected by weather. We are keeping our animals healthy for cow dung while saving our community from cutting down trees,” said a villager, Mrs Veronica Nechaziva

“As men, we are happy with this intervention because it is saving our women from the hustle of fetching firewood. Ideally, this has motivated us to take good care of our cattle. The problem of stray animals is no longer troubling us,” added another villager.

The government and its partner, Practical Action are pleased with the impact of the biogas project in promoting the use of clean energy sources.

“We have so far implemented this programme in three districts of Chipinge, Chimanimani and Buhera on a trial run and as community demo plants. In Chimanimani the projects are in five wards given to selected farmers. This is a partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency, Practical Action and many others. We are teaching our farmers how to construct the biogas digesters, maintain and use them. We are targeting farmers with six cattle and above since cow dung is the only required input into the plant,” said Mr Aaron Mwanasawani of the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation.

Practical Action Zimbabwe director Mr Emmanuel Madhara said “We noted some glaring gaps on challenges women were facing in accessing clean cooking energy. We realised that women were spending much of their time fetching firewood and walking long distances. We also noted rampant cutting down of trees which resulted in increased flooding in the area so we partnered government as our contribution in addressing some of these challenges.”

Energy is at the heart of the climate challenge and is the key solution. With climate change emerging as one of the greatest threats to humanity, the focus is now renewable energy as they do not emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. The global call is for people to cut down on fossil fuels which account for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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