Saturday, August 29, 2009

Turning sewage from Kenyan prisons into biogas

This article is one in a series featuring finalists from World Challenge 09 - a global competition seeking to identify and reward projects and businesses which bring economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities through grassroots solutions.

World Challenge 09 finalist - Kenya Biogas
Kenya Biogas Project was created to promote an environmentally friendly way of tapping biogas as a clean source of energy. Its objective is to replace wood with human waste in the production of biogas in Kenyan prisons, reducing the negative environmental impact from using firewood as cooking fuel. The project looks to create a model for producing biogas that demonstrates human waste, not just animal waste, can be used as the raw material. The gas is then used in the prison kitchen and to fuel water boilers.

What are the benefits to the community and environment?
Substitution of firewood with biogas as fuel in the prison reduces deforestation. This benefits the community in the long-term by increasing the amount of rainfall and helping to reduce drought, which in turn helps to improve food security. Food security translates to improved health, which helps to improve economic prosperity in the community. Water used to transport the prisoners' waste to the biogas plant is recycled and can be reused for agricultural purposes. Recycled water is better for agriculture since it has nutrients required by crops.

How has the project changed people lives?
Use of biogas in prison kitchens has helped to improve the health of prisoners involved in cooking by mitigating the harmful effects of inhaling firewood smoke. The prison’s biogas plant can be used to treat diseases that pose high health risks to the community. The project has helped curb diseases such as cholera that were rampant in Meru Prison and its environs as a result of contaminated water. It has also shown the community that there is an alternative to firewood that is cheaper in the long term.

World Challenge '09 - who will get your vote?
It's up to the public to decide who wins this year's World Challenge competition. Online voting opens on 28 September and runs to 13 November. BBC World News is broadcasting six 30-minute programmes profiling each of the 12 World Challenge 09 finalists throughout October and November.

Find out more
World Challenge website and online voting:
Kenya Biogas Project:

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