By Delicious Mathuthu
A serious lack of financial capacity by rural communities in Zimbabwe is hampering progress in the adoption of biogas, a much cleaner and renewable source of energy that could ease pressure on firewood demand and deforestation.
As the Zimbabwean Government through the National Domestic Biogas Programme aims to encourage the adoption of green energy to improve lives and increase incomes of rural households, some of the rural communities who would largely benefit, find it difficult to practically adopt the new bio energy source.
A recent visit to one of the Midlands rural communities in Lower Gweru’s Insukamini area revealed that villagers are having a hard time sourcing firewood as forests are depleted which is gradually forcing them to consider embracing ideas of alternative sources of domestic energy.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Midlands says they have been actively involved in green energy education projects, teaching villagers in the area on the benefits and basics of biogas and are currently on programme targeting mostly youths on how to construct bio digesters.
One of the villagers, Mrs. Margarete Koza, who is the chairperson of one of the few organized gardening cooperative groups that are delving into the biogas project after engaging with EMA, says villagers now have sufficient knowledge on biogas and the benefits associated with it but the major challenge hampering progress is monetary.
“Our biggest challenge is that we do not have cash. This biogas thing is a good initiative and we really want to do it but we can only go as far as gathering locally available resources,” she said.
“We can gather sand, dig the pits and even mould the bricks but that’s how far we can go; when it comes to those things that need money such as cement, mash wire and other materials we are stuck,” said Mrs Koza.
Another villager in the same cooperative group, Mrs. Spiwe Mthombeni, added that buying the needed materials to complete just one digester for a homestead is way beyond their reach.
“The amount of money needed to buy materials to construct a bio digester is way too expensive, after calculations we realised that we need between US$700 and US$800 just for one homestead. We have no access to such amounts of money,” said Mthombeni. She pleaded with Government to assist rural communities with subsidies for such initiatives.
Biogas is an alternative solution to the growing deforestation facing many rural communities with Lower Gweru communities not being spared as they now have to walk long distances to fetch firewood or rely on buying poached firewood.