Rwanda: House Wants Biogas Project Revisited

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Parliament has asked the Prime Minister to overhaul the national biogas programme after it found that it was not yielding the intended results.

It made the appeal Tuesday as it discussed the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s assessment report based on the 2017/2018 Auditor General’s report on State Finances.

“After realising that the biogas programme was not well studied and followed up properly, which led to various issues in its implementation, we request that the programme be revised within three months so that it achieves the objectives for which it was designed,” reads one of the resolutions that the parliament adopted on Tuesday.

The AG’s report pointed to a number of concerns over the biogas programme that may threaten its sustainability.

They included a high rate of non-operating plants whereby in the eleven districts it was implemented, 32 per cent were not operating, leaving beneficiaries with no option but to use firewood or charcoal as fuel.

Enquiries from district management revealed that the problems were mainly attributed to failure to repair and maintain the plants by beneficiaries, technical construction defects, and improper feeding [of cows which lead to low dung production].

Biogas digesters need cow dung to power their operations.

PAC Chairperson, Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, said that the biogas project was not successful pointing out that it was executed without a comprehensive study.

“We found that the biogas digesters were largely not operational,” he said.

Explaining how the study was poorly conducted, Ngabitsinze said it was considered that one or two cows were enough for the operation of one biogas digester, yet it should base more on the amount of cow dung which is determined by how much feed a cow consumes.

“After this resolution, there should be no more delay in monitoring the project because biogas is one of the major strategies that will help us address challenges related to the environment, and help to prevent diseases stemming from poor source of energy,” he said.

Another concern raised by the report was unutilised funds meant for the biogas programme. The audit found that Rwf69 million received had not been used up to the time of the audit.

That was the case in four districts of Nyabihu, Muhanga, Nyaruguru and Ruhango.

The main objectives of the biogas programme is to substitute the use of firewood for cooking energy by biogas, hence protecting the environment and people’s life, improving sanitation in the kitchen, and reducing burden on women and children who are used to collect firewood for cooking in families.

This is in line with the Government’s objective of reducing dependence on biomass as fuel through use of alternative energies.

According to the Statistical Yearbook, in 2016/2017, around 97 per cent of Rwandan households were using firewood or charcoal as cooking fuel.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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