Lilongwe — Voluntary Service Oversees (VSO) in Malawi is implementing a Community Led Action for Sustainable Energy in Schools (CLASSEC) project aimed at producing biogas from human stools and animal dung to create methane.
The three year project is being implemented in partnership with Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) in five primary schools in Lilongwe with help from Mzuzu university energy experts.
Speaking during a tour at Mnkhupa Primary School in Traditional Authority (TA) Chimutu, Project Manager for Renewable Energy at VSO, Mtisunge Mngoli said they want communities to embrace biogas as an alternative source of energy to firewood.
She said the organization came up with the project after noticing that provision of meals in schools was not always regular because of its dependency on the availability of firewood.
"A typical school uses between half and one ton of firewood per day and this exerts pressure on already depleted forest resources and contributes to deforestation, thereby exposing poor and marginalized people to the effects of climate change.
"Gas use will provide sustainable energy to support education for the most vulnerable children and protect the health and livelihoods of women that cook for them," Mngoli explained.
Vice Chair for Mkumpha Mother Support Group, Chrissy Kalulu said they were happy with the biogas project as challenges they were facing to fetch firewood would be dealt with.
"We used to experience many problems including asking children to bring firewood. We also faced respiratory problems from exposure to fumes, we could always cough and we felt too tired fetching and cooking with firewood but this will all end," she said
Head teacher for Mnkhupa School, Sebastian Munyata explained that since the introduction of the school feeding program by FISD in 2015, enrolment of children increased to 761 from around 500.
VSO and the Mzuni experts say they will train 25 artisans within the communities in constructing the biogas chambers so that they should replicate the biogas manufacturing to other interested schools and homes.
VSO is implementing the biogas project with funding from the Scottish Government's Climate Justice Innovation Fund.