The over dependence on Mount Kenya ecosystem for fuel wood that led to its massive degradation may eventually come to an end following the introduction of biogas as a cheaper source of fuel in the region.
Financial support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programs is enabling Kenyan communities and schools that use fuel wood for cooking and lighting to switch to biogas.
“We were initially using 25 seven-tonne lorry load of fuel wood a term, an equivalent of 50 trees, but with the introduction of the biogas project, we now use 15 lorries,” the Principal of Njuri High Secondary Crispus Ndeke said.
Ndeke noted that the school is currently saving 3,000 U.S dollars that was initially used in purchasing fuel wood for cooking for 850 students.
“We plan to spend less money and may finally reduce the use of fuel wood to zero in the near future,” Ndeke added.
The UNDP-GEF grant amounting to 21,046-dollar biogas project is currently being used in cooking, lighting and heating water by the students.
“We have installed 32 biogas units to communities in the area to deter people from going to the forests to collect fire wood,” Joseph Kinyua, the Community Manager at the Ngare Ndare Forest Trust, said.
Ngare Ndare is the only indigenous forest in Kenya with an expanding canopy cover with some of the ancient African Olive and Red Cedar trees.
Kinyua said that the project has contributed immensely to environmental conservation as visits to the forest have been reduced.
“We are currently sustaining 11 indigenous tree nurseries that grow 100,000 indigenous seedlings a year. The communities are planting indigenous trees in the forest while exotic trees are planted within their farms,” said Kinyua.
According to Nancy Chege, the UNDP-GEF Country Programme Manager, said that the biogas project within the mountain is aimed at conservation of the environment by diverting people’s attention from wanton cutting of trees.
Chege challenged communities around Mt. Kenya forest to take care of the environment and avoid cutting down trees since the region is currently undergoing serious environmental degradation due to climate change and illegal human activities.
“This project would not only improve the lives of the school family, but will also help capture carbon emissions and help solve climate change problems that are already with us, as populations are beginning to feel the effects of global warming,” said Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources official Agnes Yobteric.
“We must aim at achieving the 10 percent forest cover policy by planting additional trees,” Yobteric noted. Enditem