Filling biogas dome

cow dung, cooking and karma

Blog – 11 April 2018

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the moment. Fortunately we can do something about this, but we have to take action now!

Your company can reduce CO₂ emissions and compensate for the remaining emissions with projects that invest in cleaner cooking methods. FairClimateFund invests in two projects in India: a biogas project and a project which distributes efficient cookstoves. The projects offer many advantages. CO₂ emissions are significantly reduced and less smoke is created, meaning that indoor living environments are improved. There is 70% -100% less wood consumption, which protects forest areas. Also, women can spend less time cooking and gathering wood.

On Saturday afternoon we drive from the headquarters of our other local partner ADATS to Bagepalli, a small village in the Kolar district. The land is arid and dry with gigantic boulders that seem to have been randomly placed in the landscape. On the narrow road, our driver must regularly turn to oxen pulling wooden carts. You seem to go back here in time. We regularly drive past bright green rice fields that form a beautiful contrast with the rest of the landscape.

Arriving in Bagepalli we are invited to see how people use the biogas installations which are installed here through a collaboration between ADATS, BCS and FairClimateFund. Biogas plants are in-ground masonry tanks with cow dung and other organic waste. The methane gas that is released over time runs to the house via an above-ground hose and is connected to a gas appliance.

At one of the households a demonstration is given how the stove works and we are offered hot Chai tea. The lady of the house, Annasayama, says: "The big advantage is that we do not have to walk that far for firewood. I also suffer less from my eyes and I cough less. In addition, the walls of the house remain beautifully white and the pots clean. I do not have to clean that much anymore! "She proudly shows us the installation outside and of course the cows that produce the manure. She stirs for a moment through the 'slurry', the residual product that comes out of the biogas plant after the gasification process. According to Annasayama this 'slurry' is perfect to fertilize the land with, because it is nicely smooth and liquid and gives a better harvest.

In the next village we look at a number of other installations and soon all curious villagers come to see what is going on. After the inspection of the installations, we are sitting together in the village with the users of the installations. Between them a number of biogas workers. These women are responsible for monitoring the installations in their village and neighboring villages and they can carry out small maintenance and repairs. Rajama is a proud biogas worker and says that her work has gained more respect from the other people in the village. Women meet monthly and talk about the biogas plants, but also about all kinds of other things. We hear a story about a woman who was being abused at home. The other women went to her house together and made it clear to the man that this needed to stop. This proved to be very effective.

The next day we are again invited to a family to drink Chai tea. We get into conversation and we wonder if the family understands why we are here. Why do we invest in clean cooking here? It is clear that they understand that less smoke is better for their health and the environment. But is clean cooking only about CO₂ savings and health? Of course that is important, but there is more. Because women actively participate in the projects, they learn a lot and become more empowered. They gain more self-confidence, respect and increase their status. This is a fundamental change that leads to stronger communities. That is an essential step towards sustainable change. The lady of the house says that she thinks it is special that there are people in her house that she normally only sees in films and she likes it that we help each other. Everything is connected, because what we do on one side of the world has an effect on the other side and vice versa. I think that is also very special. Karma flashes through my though the idea that good deeds have good consequences and vice versa. Perhaps that is the answer to the increasing challenges of a changing climate.

Gert Crielaard, Fund Manager

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