Replacing firewood with more sustainable and less-polluting sources of fuel is one of the major challenges across rural India. The wood is taken from increasingly depleted sources and burnt on fires or in open, smoky stoves. In parallel animal dung and household waste is often not disposed of quickly or efficiently. Put the two together and you have a serious environmental and health issue.
By developing small biogas plants for domestic use in the state of Karantaka, SKG Sangha has tackled both problems. The plants use dung and household waste to produce biogas and a compost by-product which users, usually women, can sell. The plants are cleaner, cheaper and support the immediate and wider environment by disposing of waste quicker and contributing less to air pollution.
Demand is huge. Over 80,000 plants had been installed by 2009 benefitting an impressive half a million people. Each plant is estimated to save four tonnes/year CO2. And the ripple effect on the local economy is particularly striking with over 2000 people employed to build, sell and maintain the plants.