In Siaya County in western Kenya, where Sauti Kuu is domiciled, 80% of the region’s economic assets and 60% of the household income depend on the proceeds of small farming operations. The farmers, in turn, rely heavily on the two rainy seasons per year, as there is no other dependable way to obtain water in the region. With forest cover of just 2%, however, rainfall in the region is growing more unpredictable all the time. An important factor in the decline of forested areas is the use of firewood for cooking over the traditional three-stone hearths. This is how the already economically weak population of the region contributes to its own impoverishment through deforestation. There is no regular rainfall any more, and not infrequently there is no rain at all or is much shorter than expected. Harvests are growing worse as a result.
The biogas project is an attempt to find an alternative solution to this devastating destruction of the forests. The idea was to collaborate with a partner – in this case the German company Rehau – to develop and manufacture a low-cost micro-biogas system based on cow manure for domestic use. The system is tailored to local conditions and can be used by families with livestock of their own – as is the case for some 90% of the families in the region.
The biogas system was developed built and installed by Rehau in collaboration with the young people of Sauti Kuu. This not only taught participating teens how the system is built, but also how it is maintained.