Bio-gas: Using cleaner renewable energy to protect the environment

Grace Kyomugasho, 67, uses bio gas at her home in Kashaka Village, Lyantonde district, Uganda. As a member of the Obumwe group, she received a water tank and a bio gas digester from UNDP's Sustainable Land Management Project. (UNDP Uganda/2013)

It is scorching hot in Kabarongo village, deep in the green valleys of Lyatonde district. Grace Kyomugasho, a widow aged 67 years, sits on the veranda of her house. She is a local farmer here. She looks after cattle and owns banana, fruit and vegetable plantations. She has two grown children and several dependants.  She lost her husband in 1970 and has since been the sole bread winner for her family.

But life has not been easy for her. Residing in one of the driest areas in this country, she has endured the most difficult conditions to provide for her family. “I used to walk for several kilometres to collect water from a hand-dug well," she says.

The water was dirty and unsafe for human consumption. Her crop yields were always poor due to the dry soils. She also had to walk several kilometres away from her home to collect firewood for cooking.

Key Highlights

  • The Sustainable Land Management Project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries with funding from Norwegian Government (US $1,644,000) through the UNDP/Drylands Development Centre.
  • The project aims to mainstream sustainable land management practices in to district development plans to address land degradation in communities.
  • Six cattle corridor districts are piloting the initiative, including Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kamuli, Kaliro, Sembabule and Lyantonde - home to 1.5 million people.
  • Over 400 farmers have benefitted, increasing crop yields among pilot communities by 200 to 300 percent.

Two years ago, Kyomugasho benefitted from the Sustainable Land Management project in which UNDP partnered with the Norwegian Government and the Government of Uganda to support Obumwe Community Based Organisation where she is a member.

The organisation, which currently comprises 30 members, received Ug Shs 47.5 million. This money was used to buy 10 bio-gas digesters of six cubic metres, 10 rain water harvesting tanks and a 1200 litre milk cooler. The bio gas digesters and water tanks were distributed to different members of the group, including Kyomugasho.

To generate the bio gas, she mixes dung collected from her animals with waters and lets it ferment for days at high temperatures. The gas is then piped in to the kitchen where it is used for cooking and to provide light. The residue from the mixture (Bio-slurry) is then channelled into the gardens where it is employed as a fertiliser.

Kyomugasho also received a rain water tank. She uses the water tanks to trap rain water with which to mix the cow dung, to cook and water her animals. “It comes in handy especially during the dry seasons,” says Kyomugasho.

Since 2010 when Kyomugasho started benefiting from this project, her yields have improved. “Bio gas has also delivered me from walking long distances to fetch firewood and the dangerous smoke that comes from burning firewood.”

Kyomugasho’s food and fruit gardens also look healthy as a result of using manure from the bio-slurry.

"I used to harvest a handful of bananas, but today, my gardens which now stretch to over 50 acres produce about 30 bunches of bananas every month. My fruits and vegetable are also nice. I can now sell off some of it”, she adds. 

The milk yield from her cattle has equally increased. From a little over 5 litres before the project, she collects an average of 50 litres of milk every day and several kilos of ghee, which sells to earn an income.

The  project, which was implemented in six cattle corridor districts of Uganda, aims at mainstreaming good lanf management practices into district development plans to address land degradation at community level through pilots. So far the project, worth USD 1,667,364 has benefitted about 245 families in Lyantonde district alone.

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