Biogas, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, is a type of fuel derived from the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials, including manure and biodegradable waste. Biogas may be burned directly for heating and lighting and as such provides an alternative to cooking with firewood or charcoal.
Uganda currently faces an energy crisis, particularly in rural areas where animal waste is plentiful, yet firewood and charcoal are in decline. To popularize the use of biogas as an alternative fuel, Dr. Nyanzi at Makerere University initiated a project in 2001 to exploit Uganda's enormous potential for endless generation of waste-derived energy. Beyond the immediate use of biogas as a household energy source, innovators at Makerere are working to employ rural areas' unutilized animal waste to provide energy for refrigeration, irrigation, running machinery, and soil rejuvenation.
So far, six biogas tanks have been built in the district and 16 artisans trained in the art of constructing biogas tanks. Additionally, simple and user-friendly manuals have been developed which are being translated into four major languages, including Luganda, to enhance public understanding and appreciation.
The initiative has allowed for effective transfer of knowledge and skills to local artisans and models can be easily adopted and applied on a wide scale to solve the current energy crisis in the country on a permanent and sustainable basis. Through the project, artisans have also developed a mobile miniature biogas digester for public education and awareness. Though costs of the machine are high, it is believed that these are recoverable in the long run given the long lifespan of the technology involved.