Iganga District – Eastern Region: Approximately 500 people are benefitting from clean cooking and organic fertiliser as the African Biodigester Component (ABC) project in Uganda today celebrates a milestone of installing 100 biodigester plants across the country.
Biodigesters are technologies through which biogas, and bio-slurry(organic fertiliser) are produced. According to the ABC Project, of the 100 plants, majority are the 6 cubic metres family size biogas plants, which benefit a family of four people. Other constructed biodigesters include the 13m3 , 9m3 and 4m3.
ABC is a four-year project implemented as a component of the ‘Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Clean Cooking – SEE-CC program’ which utilises a private-sector approach to promote clean, affordable cooking solutions across the sub-saharan Africa.
Funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and implemented by a consortium of SNV Uganda as the lead, GIZ , MEMD and BSUL as partners with co-development support of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the ABC project aims to commercialise the biodigester sub-sector in Uganda.
The project encompasses a holistic approach tailored towards stimulating demand for biodigesters, strengthening supply from biodigester enterprises to meet the demand, and fostering an enabling environment to spur the growth of the sub-sector in Uganda.
Speaking at the celebrations held in Iganga district in Eastern Uganda, Walter Anthony Okello, representing the ABC Project said the consortium is extremely proud of the achievement made thus far, noting it is indicative of the potential biodigester technologies and enterprises have in Uganda.
“We are glad to note that we have successfully achieved the installation and reporting of more than 100 biodigesters in a one-month reporting period. For ABC as a consortium, this milestone is proof that with amplified effort, strengthened collaboration between government, civil society, and the private sector, we can achieve a self-sustaining biodigester sub-sector in Uganda,” he said.
Okello further noted that under the consolidated ABC program spanning across Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Niger, ABC-UG is proud to be the front-runner in the effort to facilitate the construction and installation of 50,000 small-scale biodigesters by the end of 2025. This is expected to provide energy access for at least 250,000 people across Africa.
In an effort to accelerate energy access in Uganda, Hatimu Muyanja, from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said that government is working with development partners through initiatives like the ABC Project to address bottlenecks such as access to finance, professional training for technicians and increasing awareness about the technology.
The celebrations were marked through a symbolic ribbon cutting ceremony and biodigester plant commissioning at the residence of a farmer in Iganga.
Beatrice Musulube, a retired teacher, paid for the installation of a biodigester after witnessing testimony of its benefits from friends in the neighbourhood.
“At first, I saw my neighbours and friends install it, but I was still doubtful of its use because I thought that I had trees to cut for firewood. I was warned that those trees would be depleted and indeed they did. Having seen how the biodigester had simplified and transformed their lives, I decided to install one for myself and I am not turning back,” Musulube recounts.
She says that as an elderly woman, she can no longer bend her knees to light firewood which is not the case with biogas. She also sang praises for bio-slurry from the biodigester which she says has improved her banana and coffee yield.
Emphasizing the benefits of biodigesters, Dr Moses Baligeya, Iganga District crop production officer encouraged farmers to embrace circular farming through value addition to waste to enjoy bio-slurry which has proven to improve agricultural productivity and serves as animal feed supplements.
According to the final Baseline report on the current bio-slurry and Bio-slurry Eenriched Ccompost usage by biodigester households report compiled by the Organic Fertiliser Valorisation Implementer under ABC-UG, bio-slurry was most applied on bananas (45%), followed by coffee (17%), vegetables (10%), maize (7%) among others. Households noted that the quality of their crops had improved (92-97%).
To improve farmer livelihood through creating revenue generating streams, the ABC-UG project curved out value addition to bio-slurry and market development as a key intervention area.
“I am particularly optimistic about bio-slurry commercialisation under the ABC Project because packaging and selling of the organic fertiliser can create an opportunity for youth employment in Uganda,” Dr Baligeya opined.
In his remarks, Iganga District Chairperson, Gabula Ezra committed to provide government support towards the ABC intervention areas to spur socio-economic growth for the people of Iganga.