This IRIN NEWS article about Uganda shows the life changing difference renewable sources can make to people’s lives.
In Brief: Uganda Gulu Region goes green, with help from some cows
KAMPALA, 27 November (IRIN) – As traditional sources of energy, such as paraffin and wood fuel, grow more expensive, smallholders in northern Uganda’s Gulu are embracing biogas – a renewable energy source produced from organic waste – to cook and to light up their homes.
“Since I started using the biogas energy, my children. have their meals on time, unlike in the past when they had only one meal because [of a] firewood problem,” Florence Lawac, who has been using wood fuel for 13 years, told IRIN.
In Gulu, where many are impoverished and recovering from two decades of conflict, a litre of paraffin costs 2,500 Ugandan shillings (US$1); a bag of charcoal costs 18,000 shillings ($7). A six cu.m. biogas digester, meanwhile, costs an estimated 1.6 million shillings ($640) and can produce enough methane gas to cook and provide lighting for a household of five.
Through a pilot programme, the NGO Heifer International meets part of the cost of constructing biogas digesters. To feed the digester, beneficiaries are expected to have at least three Friesian cows or 10 indigenous ones, or have access to plant waste. Still, many of Gulu’s smallholders cannot afford livestock.
Uganda loses about 73,000 hectares of private forest and over 7,000 hectares of protected forest reserves annually to timber and charcoal production, according to the National Forest Authority.
“It’s important that we promote activities that seek to protect our environment because it’s the source of our entire livelihood,” James Ocaka, of Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority, told IRIN.
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The work builds on the results of the COMPETE Bioenergy Competence Platform for Africa, which was supported by the European Commission and coordinated by WIP Renewable Energies, Germany.
For several decades a brutal army of rebels has been raiding villages in northern Uganda, kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers or wives of commanders. More than 30,000 children have been abducted over the last twenty years and forced to commit unspeakable crimes. Grace Akallo was one of these.
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