By Hazvinei Mwanaka
More than 2,000 students and teachers from Masvingo Christian College in Zimbabwe’s southern town of Masvingo are now enjoying their studies following installation of an eight-cubic metre bio-digester plant at the school.
The bio-digester is a joint venture between the college and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
According to EMA Masvingo provincial manager, Milton Muusha, the installation of the digester came after EMA realised that the college had challenges in safely disposing of their waste from the piggery project.
“As EMA, we are out to promote eco-friendly forms of energy which is also renewable energy. We want to cut reliance on the use of fossil fuels which has been the traditional form of energy.
“As EMA we moved in to establish a demonstration centre where this kind of eco-friendly energy is used by schools. We have problems with schools when they demand a lot of firewood, coal and fuel when they need energy,” he said.
The bio-digester was installed between 2017 and 2018 at a cost of about US $6, 005.
“So we then introduced that idea that waste from the pigs be generated into energy. The biogas digester that has been installed is producing gas that is being used in the home and economics department, laboratory, administration block and some selected staff houses.
“The demand for LP gas, electricity, fuel and firewood has been drastically reduced after the introduction of this biogas project,” said Muusha.
Apart from getting gas from biogas they are also using the liquid from the waste as liquid manure.
The school’s head Edson Muresherwa, said from the 179 pigs they rear at their school, the amount of waste they generate is more than enough and are aiming to expanding its use to other departments.
“The electricity which we are using now is lesser (now) compared to other years. Firewood is expensive, but biogas has been a relief to us. We store medication … in fridges … using our gas.
“We have already witnessed improvements in some areas especially in our laboratories. We used to buy 100kgs of LP gas every term for the Advanced Level sciences laboratory since they use lots of energy, but with the introduction of the bio-digester this has been a relief to us,” he said.
As of last year according to the school head, they have already witnessed improvements of more than 10% in combined sciences which they attribute to the biogas project.
Students also have the opportunity to learn about how the bio-digester functions.
“In case one does not excel in their academics, they can even venture into piggery and biogas projects since we have already taught them the basics,” he said.
Apart from using gas, it is also a source of fertiliser.
“The fertiliser that we get is different because it is not harmful. We just urge individuals to use biogas because it’s cheaper. Using firewood is bad because we will be causing deforestation,” he added.
Muresherwa said they used to have evening studies which they were forced to abandon because of electricity challenges.
They are, however, hoping to re-introduce the studies when they make the necessary power connections to the classrooms using energy generated from the bio-digester.
Kudakwashe Tavangwena, a Form 4 student , said biogas has changed a lot of things at the school.
“Before biogas, we used to use firewood which is not good as it causes deforestation. Renewable energy is the way to go. It is sufficient,” she said.