Faced with difficult access to electricity, wood remains families’ main source of energy. However, cutting and carrying the wood requires a significant amount of work from the women, and burning it in homes increases the risk of respiratory and eye infections.
Moreover, Ferlo’s ecosystems have been significantly deteriorated, in particular its forests.
With its project “Action pilote biogaz” (pilot biogas initiative), the association “Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières” (Agronomists and Vets Without Borders – AVSF) set up around 40 biodigesters to recycle cattle manure from Ferlo. AVSF asked the Air Liquide Foundation to finance the acquisition of equipment for eight of these units and to train several builders for their construction.
“The biogas is used to cook meals and it provides sufficient lighting to ensure the children’s safety and allow them to study. Moreover, it reduces the need for the women to collect wood and it reduces respiratory diseases related to the interior pollution caused by the fumes,” explains Frédéric Apollin, Executive Director of AVSF.
This biogas contributes to families’ well-being and health, as well as the region’s economic vitality. “Biogas has allowed loincloth dyeing activities to develop and makes it possible to heat chicken hatcheries.
“The biodigesters were built by a local company and several builders received special training. The other advantage of this energy is environmental; the biodigesters capture methane, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and they also help to preserve national forests,” adds Frédéric Apollin. And finally, biodigesters have another by-product, called digestate, which is an excellent natural fertiliser for crops, helping to improve the yields of small agropastoralists. This pilot project has allowed the development of an alternative energy, contributing to better standards of living, while creating a lever for the social and economic development of rural communities in Ferlo.
For over 35 years, AVSF has been supporting rural communities threatened by exclusion and poverty through their professional agronomic and veterinary skills.