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Biogas plants for Kenyan schools ease pressure on forests

biofuelss08 December 2013, Nairobi – Most of Kenya’s educational institutions depend on firewood as their main source of energy for cooking, contributing to deforestation and placing a financial burden on schools and universities due to rising prices for their fuel.

In response, the Kenya Forest Service and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have initiated a project dubbed “Green Zone Development”, in which biogas technology is being introduced as an alternative energy source to learning facilities in the Rift Valley.

“Boarding schools and day schools use a lot of firewood for cooking, (so) this project will reduce the dependence on the forest, and hence ease pressure on the ecosystem,” said Solomon Mibei, head of conservation for the Kenya Forest Service in the North Rift Valley area.

St. Agatha Mokwo Girls’ Secondary School in Kaptarakwa, Elgeiyo Marakwet County, is among the schools that have benefited from the initiative.

“The projects have worked very well in our school – in fact, we are now used as a demonstration centre and we have received several visitors from different places,” smiled Margaret Chebaskwony, the school’s principal.

“Apart from acquiring the gas for cooking, we also use the bio-effluent as fertiliser since it is safe for production of crops, and hence boosts food security,” Chebaskwony said.

The school’s small-scale biogas plant consists of a large digester, in which bacteria convert animal dung into methane gas through the process of anaerobic digestion. The biogas is used for cooking and lighting.

Thanks to their efforts to protect the environment, the school was awarded a Prestigious Green Award (PGA), the first for a biogas project in Kenya.

The award was created in 1999 by the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a non-governmental organisation, to recognise innovation, groundbreaking research, ideas and extraordinary grassroots initiatives in Kenya. It aims to promote sustainable use and management of natural resources by rewarding the best examples.

St. Agatha Mokwo is also used by athletes during school holidays as a training centre. Both the bakery and fish pond, built with support from the Kenya Forest Service, have been a major attraction for athletes who want to improve their home science skills.

– Alertnet

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