In the Bangladeshi community of Doria Nagar, Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, families survive on daily wage labor incomes of just US$2-3 per day. Each month, as much as 20% of their income is spent on fuel for cooking - either firewood or liquid petroleum gas (LPG). In late June, Community Partners International (CPI) and Green Hill installed a biogas plant in the community as a pilot project to convert kitchen and latrine waste into free methane gas for cooking.
“By providing a sustainable and free source of cooking gas, we can help families in this community save money that they can use for other priorities, like supporting their children’s education.” explains Program Director Md. Abul Bashar.
The biogas plant uses simple, tried and tested technology. Latrine waste and organic kitchen waste are collected in separate chambers which feed into a digester tank. In the digester, the waste breaks down, producing methane gas which rises into a gas holding tank. From there, it is piped to cooking hobs in the community kitchen that Community Partners International and Green Hill constructed as part of the project. The digested waste is then discharged into an outflow chamber.
“When running at full capacity, the biogas plant should produce enough cooking gas for twenty families each day,” explains Md. Abul Bashar.
As well as putting money back into families’ pockets, the biogas plant has several other advantages.
“Having access to free cooking gas means that families will not need to use so much firewood to cook,” continues Md. Abul Bashar. “That will help to reduce local deforestation, and will also improve air quality in people’s homes. Traditional hearths that burn firewood are significant contributors to respiratory diseases here, and they affect young children especially. The biogas plant provides a clean and sustainable alternative.”
Closing the loop on this sustainable system, once the waste matter has been fully digested, it can be used to fertilize food crops grown by the community.
Community Partners International and Green Hill are working closely with the Doria Nagar community to test and improve the biogas plant. Using the data and experience gained through this pilot project, the organizations are planning to construct additional plants to provide more communities in the area with free and sustainable sources of cooking gas.