Travelling 70km from Addis Ababa on smooth, recently built roads, our surroundings quickly transform as we turn off onto a small rural road leading to the home of a cattle farmer Mr Aman and his wife, who live in a small two room house with one, school-going child. Their two older children have already left home and are either in employment or attending university.
The Aman family, who live in Tade Didima Village on the outskirts of the capital, are one of 18,000 families to date benefitting from the on-going National Biogas Programme of Ethiopia which is funded by the Ethiopian and Dutch Government with Hivos as a fund manager. The Programme supports the Government of Ethiopia's efforts to develop a country wide, commercially viable and market-oriented biogas sector.
On his farm, Mr Aman has installed a 6 cubic meter bio-digester, which is fed by the dung from his 7 cows. In addition, the bio digester is connected to the family’s toilet and gathers waste from there also. The digester produces 1.5 to 1.8 cubic meters of gas a day providing enough energy to meet the family’s cooking requirements and power a single gas lantern located in the family’s living area.
Mr Aman’s wife, a shy lady is cooking the ingredients for a local beer on an open fire in a smoky wooden outhouse when we arrive. This structure would have been used for cooking all the families’ meals before the introduction of biogas. To the naked eye, it is clear to see how dangerous this would be for his wife’s health and safety. The smoke was overpowering for us standing outside, let alone inhaling it in an enclosed space. Also, an open fire contained in a wooden structure – is a recipe for disaster!