A project that trained five families in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to build their own biogas digester has won an international award.
The Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) won the Energy Globe Award based on the project, which also teaches local communities about the benefits of biogas as a renewable energy, global warming, climate change and organic farming.
This is the second consecutive year that the institution has won the
National Energy Globe Award St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Last year’s winner was the RVA’s “Pass-it-On Sustainable Model Gardens”.
“We express our warmest congratulations to you and are looking forward to more projects in such a high quality that help our earth to remain liveable”, Wolfgang Neumann, Founder of Energy Globe Foundation, said in announcing the award.
With more than 182 participating countries and over 2,000 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is the most prestigious environmental prize worldwide.
It distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserves resources such as energy or utilise renewable or emission-free sources.
The aim of the Energy Globe is to raise global attention on sustainable, everywhere applicable environmental solutions and to motivate people to also become active in this area.
The five families benefit directly economically, as they replace liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which they had to purchase for cooking gas, with home-produced biogas.
On average, a family of five to seven members uses four to five hours of cooking gas daily, which costs US$25 per month or US$300 per year.
The biogas digester can provide five hours of cooking gas.
Some 3,000 persons were sensitized to the use of renewable energy in schools, communities and through local radio stations.
Like other small island development states, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been experiencing the effects of climate change variability over the past decade.
Among the effects are increased tropical cyclones and flash floods.
The project seeks to create a financially viable model for ordinary families to produce their own biogas for cooking.
It also aims at increasing awareness about climate change and adaptation strategies, in terms of renewable energy sources, reducing pollution and building resilience.
The focus of the project has been on training volunteers, raising awareness about climate change issues, reforestation and conservation efforts, pollution reduction, education of youth and on promoting climate smart agriculture.
Meanwhile, RVA continues to expand its home garden programme, with 50 such gardens under cultivation across the country.
Of the home gardens in North Leeward, the last 30 are financed by the GEF Global Environment Facility Small Grant Programme and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture.
RVA will help with the creation of 10 gardens in Fancy, supported by Mustique Charitable Trust, and hopes to expand the number of gardens across St. Vincent to 200 by 2021.
The programme has been expanded to the Belle Isle Correctional Facility.
Corporal Malcolm, head of the prison farm at Belle Isle, spoke of the impact that the programme has had on inmates.
“With the help and advice of our volunteer gardener, Emris and some students from RVA, we set seeds, constructed permanent beds with bamboo; we mulch, we plant seedlings and we make sure that the organic garden is well taken care of,” Malcolm said.
He added: “What a wonderful opportunity for all of us! Can you imagine the impact of working together as a group, inmates together with officers, with volunteers from the community and from abroad? It is a beautiful lesson for all of us, we learn from each other, we open up to new ideas, we teach each other and we work together. It creates very strong bonds and a sense of belonging.”
The initial concept of the Biogas Digester was first introduced in SVG by the German Appropriate Technology Exchange (GATE/GTZ) Program to NDFSVG and DEVCO. At that time, farmers were being offered incentives and a grant of $ 600 to assist in establishing Biogas Digesters. The initial recipient was Anton ‘Tookie’ Bowman of La Croix, followed by Ms. Wilhemina Pipe of Wallilabou who made great successes of the project. NDF was of course instrumental in ensuring some measure of success for the project. Tookie was actually instrumental in guiding Ms. Pipe in the establishment of her Digester and he was available at the time to offer assistance to other farmers in SVG. The true value for farmers at the time who had chicken, pig and other animal farms was emphasized but there was a reluctance to capitalize on the opportunity.
Happy to hear that SVG received the award and hope that other farmers see the real benefits of this opportunity and avail themselves to diversify and enhance their economic future.
GATE/GTZ had also at the time offered to assist in developing technology to assist arrowroot farmers in the reaping of arrowroot and the production/processing of starch with specially designed technology.
Nothing ever materialized.
Arrowroot Starch lost in place in the world market with the introduction of Corn Starch and other alternatives. With the realization of the natural health benefits of Arrowroot Starch, markets are opening up.
Perhaps consideration should be given to reaching out to GATE/GTZ for assistance once again.
Best wishes to farmers ands their families in their endeavors to become more self sustainable. Take FULL ADVANTAGE of such an opportunity – you will not regret.
Yes, my dad, Anton “Tookie” Bowman was the initial recepient. I am thankful that my dad had the vision way back in the early 80s. He was well ahead of his time! Not only did we use the biogas for cooking, it powered 2 gas lamps and a refrigerator! Those gas lamps provided enough light for us to do our homework and study for our exams! All 6 of us, his children, went on to college – a major accomplishment for a dirt poor family in a country where there were no tertiary institutions. I am truly thankful to my dad- a visionary, my mom (who prayerfully supported her mad-thinking husband), my eldest brother Tony (my dad’s #1 worker bee who never says no to hard work), and Hartlieb Euler and his associates (GATE/GTZ) who worked on making that project a success for us. That project changed our lives forever.
It is truly refreshing that out of 182 countries n 2k projects SVG came out tops. It just goes 2 show if people could use their time productively their lives can b improve, rather than sitting there just twiddling your thumbs. ( Like the people who sit in these shacks at the sea front in Kingstown wasting their lives). So congratulations 2 the winner u have done yourself proud. And made my heart glad even though I live millions of miles away .
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