Biogas brings alternative energy options to Sheikh residents
The livestock industry is the economic backbone of Somaliland, providing livelihoods for approximately 75 percent of the population. Yet the developing region is also prone to natural disasters such as flooding and drought, which threatens food security.
But the residents of Sheikh district in the Somaliland highlands have introduced an innovative approach that addresses environmental degradation (a contributing factor to flooding and drought), increases economic potential for the livestock industry and provides an alternative source of energy – biogas.
“The positive impact … is not only a financial one, but it also has natural resource management implications; the natural trees are cut and not replaced,” says Thomas Bazarusanga, principal of the Sheikh Technical Veterinary School where the biogas is being produced.
The initiative is a joint venture by Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (STVS), conducted in partnership with Terra Nuova and UNDP. The school was opened in 2005 to ensure quality control of the Somali livestock industry, and trains its students on international trade rules and regulations and how to apply these when exporting livestock.
The biogas project uses animal waste from local livestock to produce energy to the residents of Sheikh. Women are direct beneficiaries of this project as their exposure to the harmful emissions from fuel wood and charcoal will be minimized. Furthermore the burden on household income is reduced as bio-gas replaces the use of fuel wood and charcoal which both retail at very high prices.
It is the model that has potential for replication in other parts of Somaliland. The use of biogas could prove vital to the economy as it provides an alternative source of energy in a region where lack of access to sustainable energy services is the leading cause of deforestation for firewood and charcoal. By exploring other sources of energy- such as biogas- the community is provided with the opportunity to stall further land degradation, contribute to long-term environmental protection, mitigate climate change at the local level and increase livelihood opportunities.
“Everybody in Somaliland needs energy to use; I recommend that this project is replicated and extended to all corners of Somaliland”, he said. “We need to benefit from the different uses of the biogas such as power generation, fertilizer and energy for cooking,” says the Mayor of Sheikh district Ibrahim Abdillahi Absiye.
UNDP supports STVS to maintain its food hygiene laboratory in order to monitor local food production, exports and relevant imported foods. As a result, this project will contribute to enhanced food safety among Somali consumers as well as consumers of Somali livestock products in importing countries. Food security is not only about ensuring food availability and accessibility, but also quality and safety. This means that food, whatever its origin, should provide the required nutrients without harming its consumers or the recipient environment.
The project is funded by the Government of Japan, the European Commission, the Royal Danish Embassy, and USAID.