NYAGATARE – The use of biogas energy in homes and institutions has greatly reduced expenses and time spent on cooking, beneficiaries in Nyagatare District have testified.
The beneficiaries attest that it takes about one-and-half hours to cook beans using biogas energy, as opposed to hours while using either firewood or charcoal.
According to Francois Ntirushwa, the director of Nyagatare juvenile detention facility, the use of biogas has resulted into a reduction on the daily firewood costs.
“Biogas has reduced our daily expenditure on firewood. At first we could use 3.5 bundles of firewood but since we started using biogas especially for preparing breakfast, the bundles reduced to 1.5 meaning a reduction of 45 bundles of firewood per month,” he said.
He added that there are plans for biogas extension around the entire facility. “We plan to fully extend the use of biogas because we have realized its benefits,” he said.
Similarly, residents of Karangazi Sector, who are already using the technology in their homes, said the use of biogas has greatly contributed to the fight against environmental degradation.
“We used to spend a lot of energy on collecting firewood but this system is less energy consuming,” Vestine Uwizeyimana, a resident of Rwisirabo Cell said, adding that it simplified their lighting needs.
“At first our children could find it difficult to do their homework or to revise at night due to lack of electricity. But with biogas, we can even light for the whole night for our children to read,” she indicated.
Fred Ngiruwonsanga, another user, explained that cooking on biogas-powered stoves takes fewer minutes.
“It makes cooking easy and convenient …all it takes is strike a match on a biogas stove your food is ready between fifteen to thirty minutes. It’s as simple as boiling water,” he said.
Emmanuel Murenzi, the Executive Secretary of Karangazi Sector, commended the biogas technology and appealed to other residents to embrace it.
“With the use of this new energy, a parent no longer has to wait for her child to leave school and go to collect firewood. It is an opportunity for our residents, and we continue to encourage more of them to adopt this technology,” he said.
He advised those incapable of raising funds for biogas installation in their homes to join grass-roots based community savings and credit cooperatives, which will enable them to access soft loans.
The technology is, however, not without challenges. The main challenges include availability of bricks, cement and cow dung, the main materials used to produce the energy.
According to Murenzi, each household is required to own at least one cow to stand a chance of installing the technology. On average, a biogas plant has a lifespan of 30 years.
In 2008, the UNDP in partnership with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) encouraged the use of alternative energy in homes as an environment conservation measure with the launch of at least 20 biogas plants worth Rwf800, 000 each – for residents of Rilima Sector in Bugesera District, Eastern Province.