Seventeen families from Aguthi Gaaki ward, Tetu Sub County can now heave a sigh of relief from skyrocketing fuel costs after the government began supplying free biogas digesters to rural homes.
The project dubbed ‘one home, one biogas’ is being implemented by the County government through the department of Transport, Public Works, Infrastructure and Energy at a cost of Sh3.39 million.
Besides providing cost effective fuel to the residents, a majority of whom depend on fossil fuels like firewood and kerosene, the initiative is also geared towards rolling back the devastating effects of climate change.
Area Member of County Assembly, Stanly Wakibia termed the implementation of biogas use in the area timely noting it would greatly cut down on the cost of fuel for rural families.
“The dependence of firewood fuel for cooking by Aguthi Gaaki residents poses an environmental challenge capable of aggravating the effects of climate change. We are helping rural households switch to biogas systems because it is renewable, eco-friendly and affordable to them,” he said in a press statement sent to media houses.
The beneficiaries on their part have expressed appreciation to the county government for launching the project which they say will greatly transform their lives.
Loise Wanjiku, a resident of Kangaita village disclosed that not only has the project simplified her house chores but has also helped her in production of green vegetables using wastes generated through the biogas production.
“I have been using this biogas for the past two weeks and I can testify that it is good. As a woman, it has not only simplified household chores such as cooking, but it has also saved me from the task of collecting firewood. I have also grown some vegetables using waste products from biogas production, which has improved the nutrition status for my family,” she said.
John Macharia, a resident of Ithekahuno village who has also received a digester, added that the project has really helped them as a community by reducing expenses incurred in footing energy bills.
He says the new arrangement will greatly save them from spending a fortune on paraffin whose cost has hit the roof thanks to the increase in petroleum products by EPRA a fortnight ago.
“The use of biogas energy has significantly reduced our household expenses such as buying firewood and minimized the number of gas refilling as we mostly use the biogas for cooking,” said Macharia.
Nyeri Energy CEC, Kariuki Muthui, has acknowledged that the use of renewable sources of energy such as biogas and solar power is the way to go as they are cleaner and eco-friendly.
“Once people learn the benefits of biogas digesters, such as they are an inexpensive source of energy as it requires a farmer to have only one cow to start and set up, they embrace it. The County Government of Nyeri is committed to conserving the environment by investing in eco-friendly sources of energy,’’ he explained.
The government projects the program to boost environmental conservation efforts by protecting the county’s forest cover that currently stands at 38 percent. The World Bank estimates that 77 percent of Kenyans have no direct access to electricity.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Standards (KEBS) indicate that Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), used by around a tenth of Kenyans for cooking, sells at around $23 for a 13 kg cylinder, nearly double the price in South Africa.
With at least 45 percent of Kenyans living in abject poverty, the cost of alternative fuels is beyond their reach forcing them to take to firewood and charcoal and in the process endangering dwindling tree cover in the country currently at 7.2 per cent.
Recently an environmental lobby group said investing in renewable energy sources remains the only solution to Kenya’s fuel challenge especially in the face of the climate change crisis currently confronting the world.
Greenpeace Africa International Communication Coordinator, Tal Harris cited solar power among others as available energy sources third world countries should tap into and lauded Kenya for her decision in pumping money into wind and solar energy projects.
Harris, in a press statement sent to the newsroom emphasized that investing in clean energy sources would greatly facilitate increased access to modern energy paramount to Kenya’s development agenda.
“Investing in clean renewable energy sources will facilitate increased access to modern energy that is essential to Kenya’s human and economic development, especially for the majority off-grid communities. Currently, Kenya hosts Africa’s largest single wind power facility.
Investing in more renewable energy projects will provide Kenyans with a much better future, safeguarding people’s livelihoods, while avoiding the toxic impacts of pollution,” he advanced.
He said development of renewable energy will enable growth of cottage industries that are important in creating jobs and assuring healthier lives besides saving on fuel costs for millions of poor Kenyans.
By Samuel Maina and Rose Muteti