How biogas is bearing fruit in prisons

The National Correctional Service (NCS) has committed to use biogas in all correctional facilities as alternative energy source to cut on firewood expenses and help protect environment.
Inside the kicthen at Gisenyi Prison. The Rwanda Correctional Servi ces plans to install biogas plants in all correctional facilities in the country to reduce amount spent on wood fuel and play a role in environment protection. (Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
Inside the kicthen at Gisenyi Prison. The Rwanda Correctional Servi ces plans to install biogas plants in all correctional facilities in the country to reduce amount spent on wood fuel and play a role in environment protection. (Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)

The National Correctional Service (NCS) has committed to use biogas in all correctional facilities as alternative energy source to cut on firewood expenses and help protect environment.

The commitment was made by officials during the handover of a biogas plant at Gisenyi Prison in Rubavu District.

The plant was constructed by Tumba College of Technology with funding from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at a tune estimated at Rwf120 million.

Officials said the biogas facility will enable the prison authorities save at least Rwf200,000 daily.

Authorities said the shift to biogas now covers 12 correctional facilities across the country, which has significantly reduced the quantity of firewood used.

The target, officials said, is 100 per cent coverage, but they did not give the timeframe within which they hope to achieve the target.

Michael Kamugisha, the public relations officer at RCS, said they are saving a lot of money using biogas compared to when they used firewood.

“We have installed biogas in all prisons except Nyarugenge Prison (commonly known as 1930), which will be relocated to Mageragere in the near future. We now have biogas experience and know how the alternative energy reduces the quantity of firewood and helps in environmental protection,” he said

He cited Gasabo Prison in Kimironko, that was consuming 45 bundles of firewood daily, but after the installation of a biogas plant, the facility now only uses a bundle of wood a day.

Kamugisha said while installing a biogas facility, the funds used are usually recouped within a short period.

Biogas, the future of fuel

Gisenyi Prison has a biogas plant with capacity of 400 cubic metres with four digesters and will help the prison reduce the use of firewood by at least 60 per cent, according to officials.

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Corrado Generelli, ICRC water and habitat coordinator  (center) CIP Michael Kamugisha, the public Relations Officer at RCS  and other officials at the biogas digesters at Gisenyi prison. (Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)

The governmnet considers biogas an alternative way to help Rwandans save forest cover by avoiding to cut trees for cooking to protect environment. Biogas is also cheaper.

ICRC officials said they were happy the project has been successful and committed to keep working with the government to install more biogas plants.

According to Corrado Generelli, ICRC water and habitant coordinator, the biogas plant will also boost hygiene and sanitation.

Generelli hailed the constructors to have efficiently used the support to construct plants adding that he was optimistic they will play a role in changing inmates’ lives, save government money, while also protecting the environment.

Eng. Martin Rurangirwa, from Tumba College of Technology, the project manager, said the plant requires management and urged the prison officers to work closely with inmates to put in place measures to protect the plants.

He said a biogas facility is designed in accordance with the number of people producing the waste.

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