May 29, 2018

ENFiD on Sustainable Energy: Combating Global Warming Through Biogas Digesters  By Rica Unico

Global warming is a crisis so urgent that we can no longer ignore today.  ENFiD recognizes this urgency and responded to it in 2015.  They launched the project entitled: ENFiD – Acting Together Against Global Warming. They proposed the production of sustainable energy and its use: synthesizing biogas from organic wastes through biogas digesters.

A working model has already been completed, on which the biogas producing equipment will be based. The project is now ready to proceed to its Pilot Phase: six biogas digesters will be assembled and then installed into six different households.

The biogas producing equipment will be further studied and observed by these households, so that they can be further developed before reaching the target groups. The target groups are the urban poor and the communities from rural areas in the Philippines who have limited access to affordable energy, sustainable or otherwise.

Aling Delia’s Kaning Baboy: An Introduction

In that very small and close-knit neighbourhood in Las Pinas many years ago before it became a vibrant city that it is now today, there was a woman in her late 40s whose presence was not only prominent in the area but also managed to become an integral part of our psyche and memory. My memory as a young boy growing up in that intimate neighbourhood is imbued, at least in part, by her presence and the poignant smell of her cargo. Her name is ‘Aling Delia’.
Every day, without fail, at around 4:00 P.M., just when the heat of the afternoon sun starts to subside, Aling Delia would patrol our neighbourhood with her bike. She will announce her presence by her loud and imposing voice repeatedly calling: ‘kaning baboy! Kaning baboy! Kaning baboy nyo diyan!’. There is a wagon attached to her bike and in that wagon, there were four huge containers.
What she did was collect our left-overs and other organic wastes we have produced while preparing food. Her four containers will be filled by biodegradable wastes in no time. Aling Delia and her family had a small piggery in their backyard. The pigs were fed by the wastes she collected from us. Hence the phrase ‘kaning baboy’, which loosely translates to ‘food for the pigs’. Little did we know back then, that aside from feeding the pigs, these wastes can also be a potent source of biogas, which can be used in cooking and replace the use of LPGs (Liquified Petroleum Gas).

The Biogas and the Biogas Digester: Kaning Baboy Revisited

With that image of the past in mind, let us fast-forward the time and put Aling Delia in juxtaposition with ENFiD, or at least, the practice of the former with the project of the latter. Last November 2015, ENFiD responded to the urgent issue of global warming by including the environment and sustainable energy in their advocacies. This environmental campaign bears the following slogan: ‘ENFiD – Acting Together Against Global Warming’. ENFiD will combat global warming through the use of biogas digesters that Rohlee De Guzman proposed after a thorough research she conducted with other experts in the field.
If truth be told, I did not know what a biogas digester was when I first heard it from Rohlee and Dianne Mondragon Halmans during our meeting in Maastricht last April 2018. Although not surprised, they were very excited, with the good news they received from Betsy von Atzigen that the grant proposal they submitted has been approved. The municipality of Basel in Switzerland grants ENFiD a substantial amount to fund this particular project, namely, the installation of biogas digesters in the Philippines.
What are biogas digesters and what are they for? More importantly why is it important to support initiatives like this and what can we gain from it? In her article entitled ‘The Biogas Digester Project: A Glimpse of Hope in Renewable Energy Source For Homes’, Ruby Anna Bengtsson has already succinctly explained what biogas and biogas digesters are.

In brief, a biogas is a clean and renewable fuel, similar to LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas), which you can make yourself. This biogas can be made in a digester, a container, usually a large tank where organic wastes are put in and in time naturally decompose with the help of bacteria and as a result will give off a flammable gas. Biological wastes derived from trimmings of flowers, vegetables, fruits, food rest, many kitchen and garden wastes are good example (July 12, 2017) .

In other words, the use of biogas digesters as an alternative to LPGs is not only cheap but also environmental friendly. It is cheap because organic wastes, which are free, are crucial components in producing biogas. It is eco friendly because we will not only learn to segregate our wastes properly like what they do in our host societies, but also, the biogas we produce from our organic wastes will replace the use of gas that are potentially harmful to our environment and depletes our natural resources.
Although motivations may vary, the practice of Aling Delia in the past is, nonetheless, quite similar to what ENFiD envisions for the future, namely, reusing our organic wastes. Only this time, our focus is not on feeding pigs, but on taking care of our environment. More specifically, attending to the urgent issues of global warming by producing renewable energy from our own organic wastes.
Furthermore, the use of biogas digesters amongst the urban poor and rural areas in the Philippines – who are the target group of this initiative – will require a change of mind-set or at least could inspire a shift not only in the way people think, but on how the people live their lives. After all, educating the target groups, regarding the biogas technology and how it can save our planet is an integral part of the whole project. It can make Filipinos more aware of how our actions can impact our environment and the many ways they can contribute to either save or ruin it.

ENFiD – Acting Together Against Global Warming: An Update

Last August 2016, Engineer Ernan Faicol was commissioned to build a working model for biogas digesters and by July 2017, the working model was completed, which is now located in Miagao, Ilo-Ilo. The main purpose of this working model is to determine if producing biogas from these biogas digesters actually work, which proved to be the case.
ENFiD-Switzerland, ENFiD-France and ENFiD-Netherlands, who pioneered this project, also embarked on fund raising activities and submitted grant requests. They are able to garner funds that will finance the construction of another six units of biogas digesters. These will be installed in six different households in Miagao, Ilo-ilo. Through periodic and systematic observations, the households will then produce their recorded data, so that issues that may arise can be immediately addressed. This Pilot Phase is estimated to last two months at least before the biogas digesters are made available to the end users.


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