In Nepal, Biogas Can Save Forests and Improve HealthRATIONALE
In rural Nepal, most households meet their energy needs with fuel wood from nearby forests, which creates a number of problems. Deforestation leads to flood risk and poor water quality in streams because of increased runoff; villagers (especially women) must spend large amounts of time collecting firewood; and indoor air pollution from wood-burning smoke causes respiratory health problems (again, especially among women who do most of the cooking and among small children spending time indoors).
Biogas stoves using waste from domestic animals offer a solution to these problems and have been widely promoted in Nepal. Despite government subsidies, though, biogas remains outside the reach of most poor households because of lack of promotion in remote areas and inability to afford payment for its installation. Of Nepal's estimated potential of 1.9 million biogas plants, only 200,000 have been installed so far.
This three-year Winrock project proposes to design and implement an innovative approach to increasing biogas use with the goals of creating equitable access to clean-energy technologies and benefits for sustainable livelihood and environmental justice in Nepal, as well as building capacity of community user groups and micro-finance institutions to work jointly for biogas promotion to assist poor households and benefit the environment.
Winrock will work with the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN) and, in the private sector, with micro-finance institutions and biogas companies to promote adoption of biogas in rural areas. In addition, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol offers opportunities for financial benefits from forest conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, and carbon sequestration.
Key activities focus on three main areas: national capacity building, piloting new approaches to pro-poor biogas promotion in at least six districts, and policy research and advocacy. Specific activities include assisting FECOFUN in developing a strategy to promote biogas and to work with micro-finance institutions; training of trainers (TOT) on biogas financing; business planning support for selected micro-finance institutions; strengthening of savings and credit cooperatives; preparation of policy papers for discussion; national stakeholder workshops on policy discussion; and interaction workshops between FECOFUN and development/commercial banks on fund channeling.
Winrock will deliver annual and final reports in all three main activity areas. It is anticipated that 5,000 biogas plants will be constructed through micro-finance, at least four savings and credit cooperatives will be established; and at least 200 jobs will be created in biogas financing programs.
FECOFUN prepared a "Renewable Energy Promotion Strategy" (REPS), and endorsed it in its national working committee's meeting. This strategy promotes biogas, solar, and other renewable energy technologies (RETs) for better management of the forest and to improve living conditions of member households. It is envisioned that RET promotion will be carried out through the primary community forest user groups (CFUGs).
The project trained 24 members (11 women and 13 men) as trainers for the promotion of biogas and other RETs in six program districts. These trainers were taught different aspects of RETs and financing through an intensive TOT program.
Various financing models have also been established as a foundation for the coming year. The financing models initiated through this project in the program area are 1) Revolving fund with the resources from CFUG's revenue, 2) Partnership between MFIs and CFUGs, 3) Mobilization of Biogas Credit Fund through FECOFUN and its member CFUGs, and 4) Linkage with Commercial/Development Banks.
In Fiscal Year 2007/08, a total of 833 high-quality biogas plants have been installed in 833 rural poor households from the six program districts. As a result over 4,000 people now have access to clean cooking fuel, out of which 350 plants were installed as direct facilitation of the project staff and the rest were the indirect impact of the initiative. In addition to these installations, FECOFUN also worked to restore nonfunctional plants. Most of the previously nonfunctional plants are now back in operation; project district staffs have been mobilized to establish the database of each plant in the district and to report repair and maintenance needs to concerned companies and Biogas Sector Partnership (BSP).
FECOFUN members are now aware of the CDM concept and of the Reduction in Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism. Nepal has been selected as one of the recipient countries to receive support to build the capacity of the REDD mechanism, so FECOFUN's role needs to be increased to transfer the maximum benefits to the CFUG members. In this context, CDM orientation was organized to create a general awareness on carbon trade. A talk program organized on the REDD mechanism allowed Mr. Peter Riggs from Rockefeller Brothers Fund to share his experiences from Indonesia on forestry and carbon issues.