More than 80% of the total population of Nepal lives in the rural areas. Development of the whole country depends upon true enhancement of the living standards and quality of life of the rural population. Rural technology plays a vital role in the rural development of Nepal. Any technology that eases the lives of the rural population is of great relevance.
Appropriate technologies are important to CHOICE Humanitarian. In this context it means a blend of effective traditional practices available in Nepal with modern scientific advances to create solutions to the current problems without threatening the environment and creating resources depletion. Such technologies maximize the use of renewable resources through conservation, recycling, and replication. Local climate, geology, hydrology, and ecology, as well as financial, material and social constraints, determine the form of any appropriate technology system.
Biogas technology has proved itself to be one of the most promising and sustainable sources of alternative energy in Nepal. Biogas plants have been installed in several regions in Nepal. Most of them are of fixed concrete dome type as opposed to the floating drum type. Among them, the family biogas plants are more popular and operate more satisfactorily as compared to the community biogas plants.
The principle behind the biogas plant is: Biomass from animal and human waste is decomposed by bacteria at a suitable temperature and methane gas is produced. This flammable gas is very suitable for burning and is used for lighting lamps and cooking stoves.
Biogas is very popular and has been a very successful program in the Nepal regions where CHOICE is working. CHOICE Nepal continues to lead the effort in helping families find the funding necessary to construct their family biogas digester. CHOICE has developed their Biogas program through partnerships with Rotary International, Niles Foundation, and the Government of Nepal.
Reduce deforestation: More than 90% of the rural energy for cooking, heating and agro-processing comes from biomass sources especially firewood. Millions of tons of firewood are being used for the above purpose. The installation of biogas plants obviously reduces pressure on firewood resulting in substantial control on deforestation.
Composting: The slurry produced from the biogas plants is collected in two different tanks mixing with locally available leaves and grass to make composted fertilizer. This will be used to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, which have an adverse impact to the environment.
Reduces smoke inhalation: A previous study shows that almost 90 percent of the women who are involved in domestic cooking in the rural areas either are affected or have the potential of developing upper respiratory and carcinogenic diseases due to the smoke produced by open fire stoves. It is also worth mentioning that the infant mortality and morbidly rates are among the highest in the world in Nepal.
Produces a Clean renewable energy: Biogas is a very clean source of energy manageable by the rural villagers for cooking and lighting, which obviously has a positive impact on the health of rural women as it is mainly the women who are involved in cooking.
- The biogas plants are easily adopted by farmers because they increase their social status.
- Biogas plants fit well within the Nepalese rural subsistence economy in households with a few head of cattle. Each plant produces enough biogas to serve the daily needs for cooking for a single family.
- In the Hindu culture of Nepal, the collection of cow dung and process of feeding the plant is mostly considered a privilege rather than a duty.
- As a form of fuel for cooking, biogas is much more convenient than wood which produces more smoke and is suitable for lighting also (biogas lamps).
- The use of biogas also generates considerable time savings for women in cooking and more importantly in the collection of firewood.
Typically, a family latrine is added to the biogas plant. This will help the family understand the importance and the sanitary benefits of the proper, safe and sanitary disposal of excreta.