|Environmental Specialist Javaid Afzal demonstrates supervision practices of Bank staff as he inspects the internal workings of a biogas plant currently under construction.|
Trecking through the remote and rugged mountainous areas of Nepal, it was evident to me that the abundance of natural beauty starkly contrasted with the scarcity of access to affordable and environmentally sustainable energy sources.
In Nepal, Most households still rely on traditional energy sources for cooking and heating, such as firewood or agriculture residue with few having access to electricity.
The high demand for firewood has created a number of environmental problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, and flooding. Firewood also requires considerable time for families to collect and its use results in indoor air pollution which particularly impacts women and children.
A solution has been the introduction of biogas as a way to bring cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy to rural households. It is created when animal and human waste are converted into clean sources of cooking fuel, replacing the need for wood, dried dung, and fossil fuel based sources of energy. Its byproduct can also be used as a natural fertilizer to increase agricultural yield.
|A Nepali resident enjoys the many benefits afforded by biogas including faster heating, less indoor pollution, and environmental sustainability.
It also offers a many practical benefits to families and individuals. Indoor air pollution is reduced, money is saved on lighting fuels, time is saved from gathering firewood, sanitation improves as latrines are connected to biogas, and finally, soil fertility increases as bio-slurry is used as a fertilizer.
Nepal’s Biogas Project has assisted in constructing over 200,000 biogas plants with partnerships from NGO’s and private biogas construction companies. I expect this growth to accelerate as 20,000 to 22,000 plants are expected to be completed this year.
Residents are responsible for operating and maintaining their own plants, which are built to last 20 years. They are also able to receive assistance through several microfinance facilities operating in the country, ensuring ownership and sustainability.
The successful promotion of this renewable source of energy is a powerful example of how climate change mitigation projects can deliver significant on-the-ground benefits to people who need them most.