Biogas in Cambodia

Hivos Foundation | This project provides access to energy for people living in rural areas in Cambodia. Before small biogas plants were installed, families cooked their meals over an open wood fire, which is more expensive, unhealthy, time-consuming and contributes to deforestation.

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€22 / tonne

Usage of firewood and charcoal contributes significantly to deforestation - a major cause of climate change. Slowing deforestation yields wide environmental benefits, such as biodiversity protection, reduced soil erosion and climate change mitigation. Cooking with biogas is a 100% clean solution. 

In 2006, the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and SNV Netherlands Development Organization joined to establish the Cambodian National Biodigester Programme (NBP) to create an indigenous, sustainable energy source in Cambodia by utilizing biogas. Since 2017 MAFF continues the programme on its own, supported by carbon finance. Domestic biodigesters provide a way for individual households with livestock to reduce their dependence on polluting firewood and expensive fossil fuels for cooking and lighting.

The benefits of biogas are two-fold: it provides a source of clean renewable fuel and an organic fertilizer (bioslurry) to be used to improve crop yields, thus leading to greater produce income. Selling more vegetables and fruits, as well as leftover slurry, provides families with extra income. Cooking on biogas is fast and smokeless. It improves public health drastically, as indoor air pollution is a major cause of premature deaths and serious illnesses, such as lung cancer, child pneumonia and heart disease. 

The NBP programme develops a self-sustaining, market driven national domestic biodigester sector. It establishes independent enterprises in rural areas and builds their capacity on promotion, construction, internal quality control and aftersales services. Masons are trained together with local vocational institutions, and the programme offers variable employment opportunities across the supply chain.

By the end of 2019, almost 28,000 biodigesters have been constructed in fourteen different provinces. An important success factor is a special biogas loan made available through three nationally operating microfinance institutions. Since 2010, over 70% of households have used a biogas loan to finance their biodigesters. They generally pay it back within two years. Since having a biodigester reduces time spent on kitchen activities, such as collecting fuel wood, cooking and cleaning pans, over a third of biogas families have been able to engage in new income generating activities.

UN Sustainable Development Goals