Biogas - the flammable gases (predominantly methane) produced by rotting organic matter in the absence of oxygen. It is a renewable energy course and in many cases exert only a very small carbon footprint.
LTT have built a biogas plant, the first in a primary school in Tanzania, at Managhat.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and the local authorities do not have enough funds to provide for the upkeep of the schools. Even with community contributions there is not enough money to maintain or upgrade the school. As a consequence schools slowly decay. Schools have the choice to accept this and be a victim of circumstance or they can individually try to address the situation. LTT are working with the school that want to change their destiny. This biogas plant in Managhat is one of several income generating projects run by the school that creates an income that then funds their pro-active and re-active maintenance plans.
How does it work?
The cows are the key. The dairy cows produce milk which is sold. The income covers the cost of the farm hands who look after the cows and the biogas plant. The cow waste is manually added to the digester via the inlet. Human waste is also added directly from the student toilets. The waste then collects and in the absence of oxygen creates methane which is then piped to the kitchen for cooking school meals. As more waste is added some leaves through the outlet as bio-slurry which can be manually added to the school's market garden. This improves the soil fertility and consequently the yields increase generating more money. In addition the slurry can be used in the 2nd garden where the school is growing fodder for the cows to eat.
What is the impact?
The impacts of this project are many and all hugely positive
- The income for the school from the profits of the milk and vegetable sales will be used to maintain the school's assets.
- The school no longer needs to buy any firewood or ask the students to collect firewood from the local forests. So time/money is saved.
- The school will no longer contribute to the deforestation which is starting to be very visible in the surrounding communities. Deforestation will lead to soil erosion and later conflict if left unchecked.
- The facilities will inspire others to copy either at the domestic level or at the industrial level.
- The facility is a working science project for students to learn about and understand and be inspired by.
- 2 full time jobs have been created for community members.
Forests are a vital part of the global ecosystem on which humanity depends. They store carbon, provide oxygen, house biodiversity and hold together the soil. Yet globally 1.5 million km² were cleared between 2000-2012, roughly the size of Mongolia, while in Tanzania 1.6m hectares of forest have been destroyed in just 9 years. This unsustainable pace, if left unchecked, will result in environmental degradation resulting in increased poverty and conflict.
In Tanzania deforestation is caused by increased demand for fuelwood and timber due to population growth, town expansion and construction of infrastructure combined with poor farming practices, poor management of existing resources and a lack of available affordable alternative sources of energy. Babati Town alone grew by 59.5% between 2000 and 2012.
The biogas system means that the Managhat school no longer contributes to the deforestation problem and is therefore a model of what can be achieved if the leaders have a real desire to do so.