A lot happened with the Kasiisi Project over the summer. Rather than one long post we will be sending multiple short blogs over the next few weeks to update you.
One of the most novel and exciting events was the construction of a Biogas Digester, which will use human waste at Kasiisi Primary School to generate methane to cook the school lunches. The slurry that is the bi-product of the digestion should be safe to use as fertilizer but we will be doing a range of tests on it before we use it. Since we are always looking for ways to reduce the use of wood as a fuel this project matched our mission beautifully.
5 Cadets and their professor from the Department of Environmental engineering at West Point Military Academy joined Tumweige Vianney and his team from Greenheat Uganda on the construction of the first Biogas Digester in Kabarole District. They then demonstrated to the kids how to generate methane from cow dung – very enthralling! In their spare time their contributions to the project included coaching girl’s soccer and we had the first girl’s soccer match in our schools with a friendly between Kasiisi and Kigerama.
We thank them so much for their enthusiasm and muscle! As Vianney says that ” The cadets were just about the best workers you could ask for: strong, polite, curious, and hard-working”.
They will make great military officers.
The digester needs first to be primed with 8 tonnes of cow manure, so a call went out to the students who brought it from home in bags! Human waste mixed with urine will then become the prime feedstock for the digester. Other organic materials such as food waste and grass clippings and agricultural waste can also be used.
When in full production it is estimated that the system will generate approximately 80% of our fuel needs, providing an alternative to wood with all the benefits to the environment that that brings . In addition it provides improved sewerage and manure management, reduces the
risk of ground water contamination, potentially increases soil fertility, reduces in the risk of respiratory
and eye problems for our cooks through exposure to wood smoke and gives us a big saving on fuel costs. So long as it is maintained properly the system will last for 30 years and these latrines, which usually fill up and have to be replaced every 5-8 years, will still be in use.
One of the wonderful side-effects of of the project has been the educational component. Since we are have been breaking new ground in the district we have been the focus of lots of local attention. Vianney noted that “Visitors came from up to 75 km away on remote, dusty roads just to see the system for themselves. We estimate that over 50 people from across the region have trekked to our project site to learn about biogas. That’s not counting the 1200 students at the school who are driving their teachers crazy by taking unusually frequent and long visits to the bathroom and casually strolling by the system (our construction site is right next to the existing latrines)”.
Biogas can also be used as a powerful environmental education tool involving whole communities and incorporating issues such as; waste management, renewable fuels, forest protection, climate change, organic farming” .
We thank everyone from West Point who brought us this wonderful opportunity, Aleia McCord who connected us to West Point and Vianney Tumwesige and the Greenheat Uganda team who did such a great job building the system.