A community exchange visit and training session was conducted at Nguruman Maarifa centre from 16th to 20th march 2011. The tittle for the training was 'Recycling animal waste to generate gas for Cooking and Lighting for pastoralist communities'. Main Goal for the training was to increase environmental conservation using alternative green energy technologies.
The main objectives for the training were:
1.To impart technical skills to participants on construction of tubular type biogas technology.
2.to exchange information and knowledge on the role of maarifa centers in development.
3.To discuss viability of biogas technology as an income generating enterprise for Maarifa centres.
4. To create awareness on climate change and the role of renewable energy technologies.
Potential Benefits of using Biogas technology were highlighted to be
• Avail clean and efficient energy for cooking food and lighting at night.
• Reduce women and children’s vulnerability to respiratory diseases and eye irritations caused by smoke at household level.
• Reduce children and women’s workload in fetching fuel wood.
• Reduce deforestation caused as a result of fetching firewood and burning charcoal.
• Improve general sanitation and good management of livestock waste.
• Reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming.
• Increased productivity in the evenings given clear and adequate lighting for children to complete their home work more comfortably.
• Production of high quality organic manure for food production at household level.
The participants were drawn from Marigat, Isinya and Nguruman Maarifa centres. The main facilitators were Mr. George Kamau of Tree Is Life, Mr. Joseph Githiga a member of Nga’rua focal group and Mr. Noah Lusaka, the project manager ALIN. The participants were expected to learn and pilot how to construct affordable tubular biogas digester units and utilization as an energy source for cooking, lighting and organic manure for household food production.
An ‘active participatory learning’ approach was used to ensure all the participants acquired technical skills. The participants were trained on household energy conservation tips and practical sessions on construction, utilization and maintenance of biogas units. by the end of the training, three tubular biogas digesters had been installed with complete kit including the burner.
About 21 participants were trained on this technology and this is anticipated to reach many pastoral communities faced with energy challenges. At Nguruman, we were lucky to have ten of our focal group members trained and this gives us a upper hand to have this technology spread faster within the community around.
A baseline study that was conducted at the three centers namely, Nguruman, Isinya and Marigat before the training showed that, Most rural communities rely on firewood, agricultural residues and animal waste for cooking meals at household level. Collection of these energy sources is normally the responsibility of women and children. The cooking systems used are the popular three stone hearths that is smoky and inefficient leading to fuel wood wastage and carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
In addition, communities rely on paraffin lanterns and wicket lamps for lighting at night which was found to be not adequate for a family. The lamps used poses significant safety and health risks in addition to carbon emissions and expenses involved to purchase paraffin.
ALIN has been in the fore front by promoting green energy technologies as alternative energy sources and also as a climate change mitigation measure. Among the most affordable and appropriate energy technology is the biogas digesters. By the end of the training, all objectives were met and the participants shared their views and the way forward for maarifa center sustainability. This initiative has been well received by the farmers and the community and it has been left out to be a matter of 'wait and see' if the three installed digesters work.