BIOGAS CHANGED MY LIFE

“My name is Georgette Nibigira, a 31 year old resident of Kisura Zone in Nakivale Settlement in South West Uganda in Isingiro district. When I was in Burundi, war broke out and I had to flee with my family for safety to Uganda. I came with my husband and three children.

We arrived in Uganda in 2018 and have not gone back to our home country since then. It was difficult for us to cook food. Sometimes, due to lack of firewood, we slept hungry even though we had the food to cook. Also having a disability made it impossible for me to fetch firewood from the nearby forests. The other alternative was to buy charcoal, which was also costly with a basin at 50,000shs. each.”

Oxfam began running a pilot on biogas production facilities in 2019, aiming to provide an alternative source of fuel to refugees targeting mainly people with special needs, child headed families, single mothers, and the elderly. Georgette’s family was among the ones selected because she is a person with special needs.

The family received dome shaped slabs, pipelines, stoves, and other material required for the building of the biogas production facility in their home. Upon completion of the facility, 2 other households were connected to it as well to enable them cook using biogas. Each household collects cow dung which is a raw material used to produce the biogas.

This has promoted peaceful co-existence and protection because women and girls used to walk long distances in search of firewood which would expose them to risks but now, they have biogas. From sharing one unit of biogas, it has promoted peaceful co- existence within the community. There has also been a reduction in cutting down trees for firewood, hence saving the environment.

‘’Finding firewood was very difficult. When this failed, we started borrowing money to buy either firewood or charcoal. But with biogas now, it’s a different life where we are now able to cook using clean energy. I have gradually managed to pay off our debts using income I get from doing casual jobs around the refugee settlement.‘’ said Daniel Karorero, Georgette’s husband.

The family also received a water tank to reduce on the long distances travelled to fetch water. Daniel participates in the production of the biogas by looking for cow dung. Cooking has become easier and faster for Georgette.

‘’I am able to cook food at any time of the day without any delays or challenges of smoke from using firewood. My children are also happy to always help in the kitchen since we started using biogas,’’ revealed Georgette.

Oxfam has currently installed 4 biogas production facilities being shared by 13 households. This intervention will be extended to 40 households by the end of 2022. The Biogas production facility is a pilot under the Strengthening Resilience through Enhanced Local Disaster Risk Management Capacities project funded by the European Union Trust Fund and implemented by Oxfam in Uganda in partnership with Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group and Joint Efforts to Save the Environment.