Biogas fieldvisit in Nongphouvieng

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Nongphouvieng village in Vientiane province is famous for its pigs. It is an ideal site for biogas projects, as the pig dung could be used for biogas production. Twenty per cent of the households in Nongphouvieng has domestic biogas digesters installed either by Chinese pilot project implemented in 2005, or by Netherlands development organisation SNV in 2007.
Finland Futures Research Centre’s DREAM project team visited the village in November 2009. Domestic biogas is one of the case studies. In Nongphouvieng we discussed both with the households that have a biogas digester, and those who don’t, as well as with the village head, vice-head, and one of the masons.

Nongphouvieng village is connected to national electricity grid, and thus biogas is mainly used only for cooking. and the slurry as organic fertilizer. The interviewees thought the biogas projects have been successful, mainly because the biogas has reduced the use of charcoal and fuel wood by 50-80 %, which saves both money and time. Charcoal is still used for grilling but otherwise cooking is done with biogas. The gas is considered more convenient cooking fuel than charcoal or wood because it is quicker and cleaner. Interviewees also mentioned that the smell from the pig dung, as well as flies, had reduced in the village.

Before biogas programme the pigs ate mainly rice husk but now they are fed with industrially made food that is imported from Thailand. Probably due to hormones in the food, pigs grow faster.

The respondents told that they had first had doubts about the biogas. They wondered how pig dung could be used for cooking, whether the food would smell, and could the house be blown up if gas was not used. They said that it took about a month to get used to biogas, but now they were very satisfied about it.

When asked what could be improved in biogas projects, some biogas users replied that the stoves had already broken, and some that spare parts are not available. Those who did not have a biogas digester said either that they would like to get one if they were available and they could afford it. There were also those who were not interested in getting a biogas digester.

In brief, the overall impression was that the biogas users were satisfied with the gas. However, the poorest households cannot take part of the biogas projects because they cannot afford the digester, even though it is subsidised. The poor households usually don’t have enough animals for the biogas production, but in some cases they could get dung elsewhere. The interviewed households who didn’t have a biogas digester said that also they had benefitted from the programme, because of the reduced smell and dung in the village area.

The main part of the biogas fieldwork in Laos will be done in in Savannakhet province in January-February 2010.