BSP Biogas Sector Partnership, Nepal, Domestic biogas
The Biogas Sector Partnership (BSP) in Nepal managed the installation of over 124,000 domestic biogas plants in Nepal between 1992 and 2005. The plants use cattle manure to provide biogas for cooking and lighting. In addition, about 75% of the plants incorporate toilets. About 80% of the 4.2 million households in Nepal use fuelwood, cattle-dung cakes and agricultural residues for cooking, and kerosene for lighting. Demand for fuelwood substantially exceeds the rate of regrowth, and this is leading to degradation of the land and damage to vital watersheds. Cooking indoors over open fires, and lighting with kerosene, gives dangerous exposure to air pollutants and a high risk of fire, particularly for women and young children who spend much of their time indoors. In addition, women and girls have the drudgery of collecting fuelwood, which typically takes three hours each day. The Ashden judges commended this project for the many benefits which it provides. The biogas plants replace nearly all the use of fuelwood, and make cooking easier, cleaner and safer. In 20% of houses biogas provides safer lighting as well. This saving of unsustainable fuelwood use also reduces carbon dioxide emissions. The provision of toilets improves sanitation; and the effluent from the biogas plant is a valuable organic compost. The use of cattle dung to generate biogas is well known in the Indian subcontinent, but in no other place has it been used with such success as in Nepal. The scale of the programme is remarkable. Biogas already serves about one million people (4% of the population of Nepal), and the biogas sector provides about 11,000 permanent jobs in the country. If anyone needed to be convinced that 'small scale can be big' then they need look no further! The Ashden judges also recognised the excellent collaboration between different organisations (BSP, government, construction companies, donors, finance organisations) in order to achieve such outstanding results.