Bernama: The construction of biogas plants in Kumrose village, Chitwan district in central plains of Nepal will make it the first village in the country to be free of fossil-fuel and become environment-friendly, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
“We started with a pilot project. In the beginning 14 biogas plants were installed with donation. Once the villagers saw that it could be used effectively, the number grew and we got more donors. The donors realized that if villagers got support, they could really make a difference,” said Kul Prasad Pokharel, president of Budi Rapti Buffer Zone Users’ Committee (BRBZUC), under which the Kumrose village falls.
Pokharel has been working as the president of BRBZUC for the last four years to bring about change in the village where 70 percent of the population is underprivileged.
Kumrose is one of the 34 village development committees (VDCs) that are in the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage site.
It is home to around 1,750 households, out of which 1,300 homes already have their own biogas plants. Four years ago there were less than 140 biogas plants in the village.
Kumrose’s achievement comes a little over 50 years after the introduction of biogas in Nepal. Over these five decades Nepal has emerged as the forerunner in biogas technology.
At present, Nepal has the world’s highest number of biogas systems per capita, outnumbering China and India. There are biogas companies in almost every district of the country.
Biogas links the economic needs of communities with conservation and the result is an eco-friendly situation with positive social and environmental implications. The small village of Kumrose in fact contributes to the larger picture of environmental protection and climate change in this Himalayan country.
The construction of a biogas plant costs a little over US$562. The Nepal government provides US$270 as subsidy, US$112 come from donors and the remaining US$79 from the user committees. As a result, the family ends up paying less than US$112. There are additional subsidies available for marginalized users.
“Kumrose village is contributing to the clean development mechanism in its own way. It is contributing to a better environment. Biogas plants have an impact on the environment and financial sustainability, along with social implications as well,” said Keshav Khanal, coordinator, sustainable landscape at the Hariyo Ban Programme, an initiative funded by USAID.
Statistics show that a biogas plant saves 90 minutes per day in the lives of rural women since they don’t have to spend hours collecting firewood. They could spend this extra time on income generating activities or with their children.
Binda Bhandari, 38, works at the ticket counter in Kumrose’s community forest. Her husband fell from a tree five years ago while on duty, and since then has been paralyzed waist down. Bhandari is now the sole breadwinner of her family.
“Biogas plant made life much easier for me and for many women of the village. It gives us time to do other things. Women don’t have to spend their entire time inside the forest,” Bhandari said.
However, biogas, which is basically cattle dung and human waste being converted into methane for consumption, poses problems for those who don’t have many heads of cattle. Bhandari’s case is an example.
“We just have one cattle and it’s very difficult for us to provide dung especially during winter when there is shortage of water. I wish we had more cattle,” she said.
Another improvement in Kumrose and other villages of the country is that biogas plants are usually attached to toilets and this has solved open defecation in the village.
Every biogas plant that has been constructed in Kumrose has a toilet attached to it. So, along with cattle slurry they can also use human waste to produce methane.
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