Methane, which is released from animal manure, is 22 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. By turning human and animal waste into a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide that can be used for lighting and cooking, an IFAD-funded project in China’s Guangxi province is helping reduce methane’s more damaging global warming effects, directly contributing to climate change mitigation and poverty reduction.
“We used to cook with wood,” says Liu Chun Xian, a farmer involved in the project. “The smoke made my eyes tear and burn and I always coughed. The children, too, were often sick…. Now that we’re cooking with biogas, things are much better.”
Each household involved in the project built its own plant to channel waste from the domestic toilet and nearby shelters for animals, usually pigs, into a sealed tank. The waste ferments and is naturally converted into gas and compost.
As a result of the project, living conditions and the environment have improved. Forests are protected, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation. A large amount of straw, previously burned, is now put into biogas tanks to ferment. This further reduces air pollution from smoke and helps produce high-quality organic fertilizer. In addition, the project has resulted in better sanitary conditions in the home.
With more time to spend improving crops, farmers in Fada, a village in the project area, increased tea production from 400 to 2,500 kilograms a day over a five-year period. Average income in the village has quadrupled to just over a dollar per day. This is significant in a country where the poverty line is 26 cents per day. And as a result of the project, 56,600 tons of firewood can be saved in the project area every year, which is equivalent to the recovery of 7,470 hectares of forest.