Led by Cordaid, the Circular Refugees Consortium has launched the Waste to Clean Energy project. This is a one-year partnership to facilitate the generation of biogas for cooking and other key energy needs for both refugees and host communities in the Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda.
The partners are SEMiLLA Sanitation, SkillEd, Wageningen University and Research, Muni University, and Caritas Arua Diocese.
A 2021 survey held by Cordaid on the use of human faecal matter for renewable energy generation revealed that because of the unavailability of wood, conflicts between refugees and host communities and the high costs of firewood and charcoal, energy for cooking (45%) and light (30%) continues to be a great need in the area.
Scalable energy solutions
However, the continued dominance of expensive, mostly counterfeit energy solutions on the local market, such as solar lamps, torches and batteries continue to prevent communities from fully benefitting from relevant, scalable energy solutions.
With financial support from the Dutch Innovation Fund, the project will help to construct a waste treatment plant in the settlement to convert the faecal sludge of 15,000 refugees in the settlement into 90 cubic metres of paraffin on a daily basis, thus increasing access to renewable energy for both people residing near the settlement and refugees living within the settlement.
A biodigester will also facilitate the production of nutrient-rich compost for growing vegetables, horticulture and other agricultural crops in the area.
Residents and refugees will both be involved in mounting the system and will operate and maintain the treatment plant. The community will also set up and manage businesses arising from the treatment facility, such as the sale of compost and biogas for cooking.
The intervention should increase employment opportunities for youth, reduce the walking distance in search of energy for cooking and lighting, reduce conflicts over wood fuel between refugee and host communities and therefore also reduce the need for conflict-related psychosocial support.