New, green partnership for ECLOF Uganda
In partnership with Heifer International in Uganda and SNV, ECLOF Uganda has recently designed a new loan program for its clients: the biogas program. This new program is offered under the patronage of the Uganda Domestic Biogas Program, which is a public-private partnership between Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, HIVOS, SNV, Heifer International in Uganda, the latter three comprising the team of national implementing agencies, and ECLOF Uganda, as one of the microfinance institutions associated with this program.
So far, this new program has proven to be extremely successful. A pilot has been run with the Bweyale United Women HPI Group in the Masindi District, in the northwestern part of Uganda, about 210km from Kampala. This group has acquired 4 loans worth a total of UGX 65.3 million from ECLOF Uganda which have been used to purchase heifers. The cow dung – the waste product from these heifers – has then been used as the main engine to enable biogas digesters to operate. 32 members have purchased heifers. Among them, 15 have already constructed biogas digesters which are fully operational.
Here is how the whole program works: HIVOS provides grants through the Government, Heifer provides technical assistance (among other services, the technicians that will construct the biogas digesters), SNV carries out capacity-building projects, and ECLOF extends credits and offers trainings in loan management to the beneficiaries of the program.
This program is especially useful in that it targets small-scale cattle and piggery owners in areas where wood fuel has become extremely scarce. The digesters save on expenditures on fuel and reduce the workload of women and children in collecting firewood. Biogas replaces ever scarcer traditional wood fuel and reduces deforestation. The use of biogas therefore reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, biogas usage cuts down on indoor air pollution by eliminating smoke from kitchens, with obvious health benefits. It also produces fertile organic slurry which improves soil fertility and thus increases agricultural productivity.
The program currently aims at supporting the construction of 12,000 biogas digesters by 2014 throughout Uganda.