By Locadia Mavhudzi
Zimbabwe’s quest to improve economic development and reach a middle income economy by 2030 can be catalysed by improving access to energy by rural communities.
Biogas energy which is derived from human and animal waste can be a panacea to most energy challenges bedeviling most rural communities in Zimbabwe.
A tour of Silobela and Lower Gweru communal areas in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province clearly reflects massive deforestation as farmers cut down trees for firewood and clear land for agricultural activities.
A desert outlook is already formulating in some areas to the extent that household biogas projects spearheaded by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), have come in handy to avert the prevailing scenario.
Silobela community has embraced the use of biogas energy at household level as a smart alternative which has improved their living conditions, following a successful pilot programme funded by EMA.
The biogas project which was spearheaded by EMA, has enabled the people of Ward 18 Gobo area and Ward 24 Mslahobe areas in Silobela, to use the energy for cooking and lighting purposes thereby reducing deforestation in the area which is already highly deforestated.
EMA Midlands Environmental Planning and Monitoring Officer, Annastancia Mangisi said they have completed a pilot project in two wards where households are now using the energy from livestock waste.
“We trained 15 builders who will be constructing the household digesters around Kwekwe and Silobela areas. The household biogas projects will cascade to the other districts in the province and so far 30 youths have been trained to spearhead the same project in Lower Gweru.”
Biogas digesters constructed in Silobela
Mangisi said the biogas project has been a success as there is less pressure on deforestation in the area.
Biogas is a possible and alternative form of energy that can substitute traditional fuels like firewood and dried cow dung and is suitable for rural household cooking, heating and lighting.
Sithembile Munodawafa, a resident of Silobela, said biogas energy has enabled her to scale up her chicken rearing project due to the availability of improved lighting and heating services.
“We are grateful for the new innovation as we are now able to derive energy from livestock waste. I have since expanded my chicken rearing project and am optimistic that I will grow my business.”