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African Biogas Carbon Program recognized for SDGs contribution

The Gold Standard for the Global Goals – previously called Gold Standard – has approved the African Biogas Carbon Program for its contribution to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This approval is important as it recognizes the development impact and climate gains of household biogas as an alternative fuel for cooking. Biodigesters contribute directly to at least eight SDGs

Biogester SDGs (image courtesy Hivos).
The direct contribution of a biodigester to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (image courtesy Hivos).

The African Biogas Carbon Program, the umbrella for Hivos biogas programs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda that promotes domestic biogas as alternative fuel for cooking, has committed itself to monitor six of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s: zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and climate action.

According to the Netherlands-headed NGO Hivos, this approval is important as it recognizes the development impact and climate gains of household biogas, more specifically, the Africa Biogas Carbon Program. The contribution to the SDGs can be explained as follows:

SDG 2: Zero hunger
A biodigester produces biogas and bioslurry (the effluent). Bioslurry is an organic and high-quality fertilizer that helps farmers to increase crop yields while maintaining soil health. The combination of improved soil quality, yield and reduced fertilization cost (farmers don’t have to buy chemical fertilizers anymore) improve farmer’s income and their food security.

SDG 3: Good health and well-being
Biodigesters significantly reduce household indoor air pollution. A Hivos study conducted in 2015 shows a reduction of around 36% in exposure and 88% in kitchen concentrations. CO levels are also much lower. This has a direct positive effect on health.

SDG 5: Gender equality
Biogas replaces the use of firewood for cooking. It, therefore, reduces the workload of women to collect wood. But cooking with biogas is also faster, and less cleaning is required as cooking pots are not blackened by soot. In addition, convenience is improved as biogas ignites directly and there is no need to tender the fire continuously. This reduces the burden on women to do household choirs and gives them time to focus on other things, like other economic activities. This, in turn, improves their position in the household and the society at large.

SDG7: Affordable and clean energy
Biogas generated from biodigesters enables households to have access to an affordable and clean source of energy. Biodigesters have an estimated lifespan of at least 10 years and the pay-back period is only around 2-3 years. Given that manure is produced at the households and available for free, the short pay-back period, households will have access to a free and clean source of energy for the majority of the technology lifespan.

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
The construction of biodigesters creates job opportunities for skilled workers in rural areas, which improves the rural economy.

SDG 13: Climate action
The installation of biodigester reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by displacing fossil fuels by the provision of a clean and renewable fuel – biogas – and by reducing methane emissions from animal waste by capturing methane gas in a biodigester and using it for cooking.

The creation of biodigester markets in East Africa, such as this one in Kenya, is feasible, according to a new analysis from the US Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in collaboration with Hivos.

High economic value

The African Biogas Carbon Program was previously registered by the Gold Standard as a carbon standard. Registration was approved in 2015 and subsequently, Gold Standard issued Verified Emission Reductions (carbon credits) for Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.

Next to recognizing the development impacts of biogas, Gold Standard recently also calculated the economic value of clean cooking solutions such as biogas. Their study finds that for every carbon credit issued from a clean cookstove project, US$267 in economic value is created.

For domestic biogas projects, the average value created is US$464. For biogas, the highest value is created by health impact and improved livelihoods, including time savings of women.

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