Worku Behonegn, Country Director, SNV Ethiopia
SNV Ethiopia is responsible for managing the National Biogas Programme. In the first and second phases of the programme, SNV Ethiopia managed to distribute 18,000 bio-digesters over the last 10 yearswhile in the third and scale up phases the organization plans to distribute 36,000 bio-digesters. EBR sat down with Worku Behonegne, country director of SNV Ethiopia to learn more about the Programme.
EBR: SNV implemented highly successful Biogas programs in Nepal and Vietnam. It distributed close to 200,000 bio-digesters in less than five years. But in Ethiopia the distribution of bio-digesters has not surpassed 20,000 in the last ten years. What are the reasons?
Worku: It is based on the circumstances in these countries. In Nepal, there was already awareness and distributed digesters. In Vietnam, before we went, they were already using digesters because they have large scale pig farms and a well-developed horticulture sector. Private sector involvement in Nepal and Vietnam was also high at the time SNV started.
But in Ethiopia, we designed the program almost from scratch. We created awareness and trained the youth and started distributing digesters. In Africa, especially in Ethiopia, the first phase was slow. The second is better. And now in the third phase we can see gradual improvement.
The use of biogas will take off when it is implemented together with other projects in dairy, fodder production, and farming. Currently, we are working with some 65,000 farmers, both those who are agriculturalists and pastoralists, who have huge dung piles. Our plan is to include them in the National Biogas Program (NBP). Even better, we are preparing to increase the number of farmers from 65,000 to 150,000.
In Ethiopia, the private sector has a limited role in expanding the use of biogas unlike Nepal and Vietnam.
Once we initiate demand and train the youth, we hope private sector interest will increase. We are devising incentives to involve the private sector, especially in the importation of bio-digester materials, distribution and construction of digesters, at large scale.
In the past ten years, the NBP launched two consecutive projects but up to 50Pct of the digesters distributed during phase one and two are not functional. How do you evaluate the standard of digester technology in Ethiopia, compared to other countries?
Capability is a concern. The soil type and the skills of masons affect the functionality of digesters. It is difficult to find quality masons in remote areas. But the design of bio-digesters is improving over time. At the national level, there is technical committee, and once an improved design is tested and approved by them, it will be distributed.
In the third scale up program, SNV is involved in both the technical side and fund management, unlike previous phases, when you were involved in just the technical side. Do you expect different performance?
It means we will be involved in every detail. We will implement a result based approach and try to reach the target of distributing 36,000 digesters and benefitting 180,000 people within the next five years, without delay and without compromising quality. We will be involved in detailed action, rather than managing the system. We need to investigate why the program did not move faster in the first and second phases. We need to identify which stakeholders are pulling back. Then we will take corrective action. We will make sure that the program is run by lower administration levels.. Our continuous task will be making the whole system work.
Where do you think the system became stuck? The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) has bureaus at the woreda level. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources (MoALNR) also has extension workers down to the lower levels of administration.
The problem is a lack of awareness both on the part of the implementers, and the farmers. Their attitude did not change when it came to the practical stage. But the demand from households is mounting, and to help satisfy it, there is a national steering committee, led by the state minister of MoWIE and with stakeholders from MoALNR.
There are large scale livestock farmers and horticulture farms. Have you started working with them?
So far the focus has been at the household level. We are adopting the experiences of other countries to start large scale operations by partnering with livestock and horticulture farms. Now we are preparing to test the viability of the project. In the third scale up phase we’ve planned to construct and distribute 40 large scale bio-digesters of above 10 cubic meters each.
6th Year . June 16 – July 15 2018 . No.63