Local Science News

Biogas project helps Karambi Secondary School save money, and trees

BY ALEX BALUKU

Karambi Secondary School in Karambi Sub County in Bukonzo County West in Kasese District uses biogas from student’s waste for fuel, save money and trees and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from burning wood.

Marion Masika, a senior four student, was very surprised to learn how the meals for their teachers, and student’s breakfast at her school were prepared.

The charcoal and firewood that are typically used for cooking at Karambi has for the last 5 years reduced from 12 trips of firewood to 6 every term. Instead, the kitchens cooked with biogas produced from the students’ own toilet waste.

“Before I came to this school, I was living Nyakimasa Village, Kyogha Parish in Bwera Sub County where we use charcoal and firewood for cooking,” Masika said. “I didn’t imagine my waste being a source of energy.”

Speaking to this rwenzoridaily.com, one of the Chemistry teachers, Nathan Njimba who also took this reporter through how the biogas system works, said that since 2015, biogas has been a key resource for the school saving the expense of buying fuel and emptying latrines, while also preserving a significant number of trees and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning wood.

In the process, Karambi SS has become a model of how the effects of climate change can be mitigated at the local level.

Njimba added that he had eaten food from the school kitchen and there was nothing in the taste to indicate that it had been cooked using by-products of human waste.

Waste from toilets at the school is deposited into large pipes and pumped automatically into a bio-digester buried underground. Bacteria are added to break down the waste, and gas is produced as a by-product of this process. However, according to Mr. Njimba, the production of biogas has been low for the last few weeks since students are still in holiday.

When the bio-digester is full, excess water and waste go to other chambers called breeders. As gas is used up, the water and waste in the breeders return to the digester for further processing.

After the waste has been fully digested, remnants are stored in tanks from which they can be collected and dried to produce fertilizer.

The biogas project at the school was funded by WWF with support from the World Bank in 2015 under the clean energy campaigned aimed at conserving the environment.

Njimba adds that the project is saving wood that would otherwise be needed to cook the teacher’s meals and student’s breakfast. He said that previously they used to buy 12 Canter Lorries of firewood for each three-month school term but now they buy only 6.

In an interview with our reporter, the Co-founder for Climate Change Institute said that If all schools, both primary and secondary, took up this initiative, she thinks after a few years they could be able to count how much carbon has been saved from the atmosphere by sparing the trees and forests.

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