On March 13, 2022, Community Partners International (CPI) welcomed Salima Jahan, Joint Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh, member of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) and Project Director of the Household Energy Platform (HEP) at the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, and other distinguished guests on a visit to a biogas plant supported by CPI in Doria Nagar village, Cox’s Bazar.
Opened in mid 2021, the biogas plant uses kitchen and toilet waste to generate biogas that villagers use to cook in a communal kitchen built as part of the project. The plant produces six to eight kilos of biogas per day. This makes a significant difference for these families that typically spend as much as 20% of their monthly income on cooking fuel such as LPG. Average incomes in this community are low, with community members earning US$2-3 per day as day laborers. Saving on fuel enables households to invest in other priorities, such as their childrens’ education.
In addition, the use of biogas reduces the community's need to source firewood and other biomass to fuel their cooking stoves. This helps reduce deforestation and household air pollution.
Joint Secretary Salima Jahan was accompanied on the visit by Mamata Afrin, Assistant Secretary and Executive Magistrate of the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner under the Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief, Government of Bangladesh, Dr. Engr. Khalequzzaman, founder of the Bondhu Foundation and Shuvashish Bhoumik, Country Director, ATEC Australia International.
After meeting with senior representatives of Community Partners International (CPI) and local partners Green Hill in Cox’s Bazar to discuss the technical aspects of biogas plants, the group traveled to Doria Nagar where they received a guided tour of the plant. The CPI and GH team explained how the biogas plant works and the guests discussed the benefits of the plant with community members. The group also met with households that do not use the biogas kitchen to assess their cooking habits and needs. Once the tour was complete, the group sat down to share a meal cooked by the community using biogas produced by the plant.
Joint Secretary Salima Jahan emphasized the potential of the Doria Nagar biogas plant as a model for similar projects in communities across Bangladesh. "The initiative taken by Community Partners International to produce cooking gas from kitchen and toilet waste through this biogas plant is a great example and should be replicated in different parts of the country,” she confirmed. ”I am so happy to see community engagement and participation throughout the process and unity among the biogas plant users. A purely community-driven approach and a successful model.”
The guests were particularly interested to understand how Community Partners International and Green Hill were able to make the project so successful when efforts to introduce toilet waste biogas into other communities in Bangladesh had only achieved limited success.
“During the visit, we explained to the guests how the success of this biogas plant is due to the engagement of the community from the very beginning,” explained Anam Ali, Community Partners International’s Country Director in Bangladesh. “We helped the community form a user group to make key decisions about the adoption and operation of the plant. We organized focus group discussions during the initial planning phase and explained how the plant would work. We also trained and equipped Community Biogas Volunteers on how to manage the plant day-to-day, creating employment opportunities in the community. At every stage, the community was in control and guided the development of the plant according to their needs and priorities."
With more than 70%* of rural communities in Bangladesh still relying on biomass for cooking fuel, biogas is one of several solutions that offer cleaner and cheaper energy to low-income communities. Based on the success of the Doria Nagar biogas plant, Community Partners International is now looking at potential locations for additional biogas plants in Bangladesh. “With the support of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, and given this experience in Doria Nagar, Community Partners International is looking forward to supporting five additional biogas plants in 2022 in different districts in Bangladesh,” explained Ms. Ali.
After the tour of the biogas plant, the group visited the office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner in Cox’s Bazar to discuss clean energy initiatives and biogas plants in Bhasan Char. Later on the same day, the District Administration of Cox's Bazar organized a meeting at the Government Circuit House with Joint Secretary Salima Jahan and local hotel operators where she described her visit to the Doria Nagar biogas plant. She expressed her satisfaction with the plant and revealed that she ate a delicious lunch cooked by the community using biogas in the communal kitchen.
Community Partners International will continue to work closely with the Household Energy Platform and the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and other national implementation partners to support the expanded uptake of biogas for communities in need in Bangladesh.
* Source: https://www.seforall.org/system/files/2020-12/EF-2020-UL-Bangladesh-SEforALL.pdf