Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but in the case of BSP’s biogas programe in Nepal they have a lot to say. Some 208,000 biogas plants had been installed by 2010, benefitting 1.25 million people across the country. That means 420,000 tonnes/year less fuelwood burnt and 630,000 tonnes/year CO2 saved. And with the plants has come an infrastructure of installers and finance institutions and over 6,000 people trained.
The impetus for the scheme was the huge amount of damage that cutting fuelwood was doing to land and vital watersheds. In addition cooking on open wood fires indoors created an unhealthy environment for families. BSP’s solution was biogas digestion. A biogas digester breaks down cow dung and toilet waste to produce clean gas which is used for cooking. The left-over residue is also an excellent fertiliser.
BSP is the enabler. Training of local people creates a network of expertise and encouraged installers. Arranging financing through microfinance lenders helps both buyers and sellers.
Plants cost between US$340 and US$440, and most families pay back their loan within 18 months. And men without biogas systems had better be careful. One user’s feedback was very simple “I would never” she said, “have contemplated marrying a man whose home didn’t have a biogas plant”.