By Hazvineyi Mwanaka
Masvingo City Council has been urged to develop and promote the use of biogas as an alternative source of energy and as a way of managing their biodegradable waste.
In an interview, Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said the generation of renewable or green energy projects will ease power shortages and help in the management of waste in the city.
“The generation of electricity through biogas is the way to go and it is happening the world over. Green energy is the buzz word in terms of mitigating against climate change impacts.”
Mtimba added that with thousands of youths roaming the streets due to high levels of unemployment the City Council could help them create jobs in the renewable energy sector. This could involve gathering all biodegradables in the community for feeding into the biodigesters instead of them finding their way to the dumpsite.
Mary Semu one of the residents in Victoria Ranch in Masvingo said they are affected by the smoke that comes from the nearby dumpsite.
“MCC disposes their waste at the nearby dumpsite and fire outbreaks are a common occurrence and the smoke comes right into our homes We have young children, sick people and the elderly in our homes, how can we protect them from inhaling the harmful substances? We hope the council will address this as soon as possible.”
There are still some concerns amongst residents on the safety of the use of biogas as well as the issue of using human waste as a source of energy.
However, the Head of Energy Access with Practical Action, Godfrey Sibanda said there is no difference between biogas obtained from cattle and human waste.
“Some people have negative perceptions, but what is needed is education on this gas. Biogas from cattle manure and human waste is the same there is no difference.
“It’s possible for City Councils to use sewer treatment plants to generate electricity. It is happening in other countries like Germany, Costa Rica and others and it’s not something new,” said Sibanda.
Sibanda added that the process of generating biogas from human waste is the same with other biogas generation.
“It’s fermenting the waste in insufficient oxygen resulting in the production of the gas. So the waste is fed into the reservoir where there is insufficient oxygen and fermentation takes place. The result gas does not have any trace of either animal or human waste, it will be purely gas,” he said.
Masvingo Mayor, Hurbet Fidze, said they have plans to install biogas treatment plants.
“In the meantime, we do not have the capacity to install the treatments plants but plans are underway if funding permits. We are in the process of looking for partners to implement this project,” said Fidze.