As power cuts worsen, clean energy seems to be the only option to save the day for Hararians.
Many home have switched to gas for cooking and heating over the years as power outages persisted, but the ever-rising price of LP gas, which is imported from Botswana and South Africa, is making some think twice. In a city where a lot of biodegradable waste is thrown away – littering open spaces or finding its way to the Pomona dumpsite – constructing bio-digesters in our backyards and at institutions is the way forward.
Ideally, the City of Harare (CoH) should have by now constructed a bio-digester at Mbare Musika and Machipisa vegetable market to make use of the bio-degradable waste created there everyday and giving residents access to gas energy as well as fertilizer. But their slow progress means that residents should consider making use of their own residential spaces to make bio-digesters for individual use.
In September, Hivos, in conjunction with SNV Netherlands Development Organization and relevant government ministries, celebrated Biogas Day by unveiling the Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas Programme (ZDPB) which aims to assist more than 67,000 households nationwide. The program has already benefitted many rural households, with success stories being shared at the event.
A testimony close to home came from Domboshava farmer, Mr Mudengezi, who no longer needs to use firewood for cooking and heating. Not only has this contributed to saving the environment, but his bio-digester is also makes cooking easier and cheaper, giving him more time to focus on his farming projects.
Using the bio-slurry (organic fertilizer from the digester), Mudengezi has seen an improvement in his yields. “Bio-slurry is really good, as it has improved my farming. Two seasons using this slurry and it has not disappointed me,” he said. “This small portion of my yard gives me about 13 bags of maize. I used to harvest eight bags in the same space.”
Though mainly introduced in rural areas in order to lessen deforestation as well as reduce pollution, the biogas project could work for backyard farmers in the city if the same technology was to be embraced. It could save people money on power and reduce the strain on the national grid. In Harare, working examples include the bio-digesters at Harare Hospital and Roosevelt Girls High which havebeen subsidizing their electricity needs with biogas for years.
ZBDP has so far trained 31 masons (bio-digester constructors), nine of them from Harare. The masons are willing to work in their communities and also travelling far and wide to earn a living. Among these masons is a Zimbabwe Republic Police recent graduate, Brian Zambara. “I would love to work with the police force going around stations constructing bio-digesters so as to contribute towards the transition to clean energy,” he said.
Bio-digesters create biogas, an energy resource that can be used for lighting, heating and cooking and also powering absorption-type refrigerators and generators.
Attempts to get comment from the CoH as to the viability of private bio-digesters being constructed in the back yards of residents, were unsuccessful.