Changemaker: Niza Aritha Zulu
Country of Implementation: Zambia
90% of Zambian households rely on wood energy for cooking. This is a large
contributor to deforestation as over 300,000 hectares of trees are lost annually. The rate of deforestation in Zambia is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. With 60% of the Zambian population living below the poverty line, major consumers of wood energy are low-income households as charcoal is the cheapest form of cooking energy on the market. Women and young children are at the biggest risk of respiratory illnesses as they breathe toxic wood energy fumes every day. Food waste is also another major problem. Zambia produces one of the highest food waste statistics in comparison to other African countries.
It is now time that we started doing something to ensure scientific treatment and disposal of waste without causing any harm to the atmosphere. Production of biogas is a bigger part of the answer. Biogas is the name given to the gas produced through the process of anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is a naturally occurring process and it is the bacterial breakdown of organic materials such as food In the absence of oxygen. This process produces biogas which can be utilized as cooking energy. A family of five produces enough food waste to produce biogas which can run a stove for two hours and above. Biogas has been used in India since 2001, households utilizing biogas save 50% of cooking costs by using biodegradable materials to produce cooking gas for the population. With all these benefits of biogas, many are unaware of its potential benefits not only to households but also to the economy at large. This is the reason we have decided to embark on a project that will enable marketers, to gain skills and knowledge on climate change, the utilization of food waste, and a simple biodigester setup that they can implement in their households to produce their own cooking energy. The digestate left behind after the biogas is produced can also be used as manure to grow healthy vegetation. This initiative has great potential to contribute to sustainable development by providing a wide variety of socio-economic benefits including diversification of energy supply, enhanced regional and rural development opportunities through income saving, and also combat food waste and climate change. The targeted beneficiaries are marketeers in our local markets, therefore reducing food wastage which is a perfect depiction of food for good. We believe that this training will not only be of benefit to the market, the marketeers themselves, but also largely impact households.