Community Celebrates Multiple Benefits of New Biogas Project

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Apia, Samoa – The Tapatapaō community celebrated the commissioning of its new biogas project this week, which will significantly change the way people cook and farm in the village through the provision of clean fuel and organic fertilisers.

Five biogas units have been installed in various homes in the village. One of them belongs to Elena and her family: “I am very happy to have the convenience to be able to make my own cooking gas and the significant savings this will have for me.”

To start off the units, sheep manure sourced from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Avele sheep station was used, but kitchen waste and food scraps will be used to feed the units.

This is part of the Tanumapua Baptist Church’s Biogas for Food Security and Environmental Preservation project, valued at about $40,000 Talā, funded under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP).

The Tanumapua Baptist Church is made up of 17 farming families from Tapatapaō who work the land to provide food for their families and sell their produce to make a living.

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The home biogas project has reduced the use of open fires for cooking and has provided a healthy, sustainable and renewable energy source for the Tapatapaō community.

The project has also provided organic fertilisers, which will reduce the community’s reliance on synthetic fertilisers.

The Tanumapua Baptist Church is one of eight local communities whose biogas projects are being funded by the UNDP GEF-SGP, alongside 27 other community projects, totalling $1.6million Talā.

“We are proud to partner with communities around Samoa to improve their quality of life and livelihoods. We are committed to ensuring that no one is left behind and that all people have access to the means by which they can be self-sufficient whilst contributing to the preservation of the environment as highlighted by the practical solutions seen in the Tanumapua Baptist Church project,” said Jorn Sorensen, UNDP Resident Representative.

Youth and women are the major beneficiaries of this project as they are the most likely to be using this system for cooking. The farming plots closest to home that can use the fertiliser generated by this system are also typically run, maintained, and planted by the youth and women. They should be able to see a significant improvement in crop yields due to the use of safe, organic fertilisers.

Project Coordinator Edwin Tamasese says there are many positive outcomes that will be achieved by this project.

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“Firstly, the systems supplied by Pacific Grow are award winning systems designed and built in Israel, ensuring high quality with an expected minimum lifespan of 15 years. They are also very simple to install and are low maintenance.”

To top this off, the health benefits in particular are a huge plus as they are replacing open cooking fires that many people do not realize is the equivalent of smoking 400 cigarettes in just one cooking session.”

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Our mothers, youth and children who are typically exposed to this smoke should be able to see a huge health improvement. There will also be energy security as well as organic fertilisers that will make a significant improvement in farm output and income, and that is before you take into account the environmental benefits.”

Other activities that were done under the project included trainings on the maintenance and feeding of the units, trouble shooting, how the units mitigate climate change, saving the trees from being used as cooking fuel, and how to capture gases from food waste and manure to prevent emissions into the environment.

A training programme on using the organic fertiliser generated by the unit to increase farm yields will also be held.