Al-Qasim Biogas Plants
ADP is funding 15 new biogas plants in Soon Valley, in Khushab district in north-west Punjab. With a population of approximately 70,000 residing within 22 villages, this area is underdeveloped compared to the rest of the district due to smaller land holdings, ground water depletion and difficult topography. An agro-based community, Soon Valley has a substantial number of small farmers who do not have a basic gas supply in their area and therefore rely on wood as a source of basic fuel. As a result, several areas of the valley have witnessed tremendous deforestation and drought in the recent past.
The expectation is that the 15 plants slated to be established will meet the energy needs of approximately 360 people. ADP is funding the project in three stages. Each bio-gas plant costs approximately PKR 50,000 and 2 plants will be constructed in the first stage, 4 in the second and 9 in the final stage. In addition to the provision of a renewable energy source, environmental preservation, mitigation of health risks posed by wood burning to the women as well as the by-production of organic fertilizer are all foreseeable added benefits. The local farmers who are the primary beneficiaries will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the plants thereby ensuring sustainable community participation. Furthermore, some biogas plants (from previously non-ADP funded projects) are already functioning in the valley and conversations with the beneficiaries evidence high returns on investment.
New: To learn more about this exciting initiative, see the feature article with extended details in Dastak.
Al-Qasim is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the construction for each stage of the project and will be helped by the local farmers (also the beneficiaries) in the construction and maintenance of plants. ADP will conduct site visits to monitor the construction and impact of the plants. Furthermore, Al-Qasim will submit various reports to ADP to verify the progress and impact of the plants.
Al-Qasim Foundation (AQF) has been working on development projects in literacy, gender equality, environmental issues and community mobilization within Khushab District, Punjab for the last 5 years. AQF has worked with both the government and local communities to raise awareness about development issues and civic problems. The organization also has 2 years of successful experience in the installation of biogas plants within Khushab District sponsored by NRSP and EPA. AQF currently houses 5 paid employees and 50 educated volunteers.
Q. Is the local community involved in the project? A. Yes, the local community is involved. The total cost of labor for each plant is around Rs. 27,000 out of which Rs.15,000 worth of labor will be contributed by the members of the local community and the beneficiaries (through participation in excavation and civil work).
Q. Are the costs for each plant competitive with market rates? A. The ADP Project Team has carried out extensive market analysis to compare costs for building materials such as gavel, cement, etc as well as labor. Due to this the plant costs are highly competitive and furthermore an audit mechanism has been put in place to ensure transparency of costs in the future.
This May, the Al-Qasim Foundation completed the third phase of the ADP-funded biogas project in Soon Valley, Khushab. Please see a project update at http://developpakistan.org/al-qasim-update/. More pictures can also be seen on the Facebook album.
Ahmad Chaudhary went back to Soon Valley in November to check the progress in Phase II. From monitoring perspective, he visited 2 plants from Phase II and found that the quality of construction had been maintained. Phase II plants are currently in operation and the project partner, Al-Qasim, is ready to start Phase III. A full site visit report will be coming soon. Some photos from the visit have been uploaded at our Facebook page.
Ahmad Chaudhary (from the Project Team) visited Soon Valley in late February to inspect the Bio-Gas plants constructed in Phase I of the project. Only one out of the two plants could be visited as the other location was only accessible on a 4×4. The beneficiaries of the plant were happy with the performance and construction quality of the plant, which is fulfilling their daily requirement for cooking (3 meals, tea etc) and also supporting gas heaters in the winter.
One key follow up was to verify the number of beneficiaries benefiting from the plants. This particular plant had two distribution lines serving adjoining homes, and Ahmad talked with the head of the family (who is also a local school teacher) at one of them. He indicated that he provides free lunches to his students that come from other villages, and therefore cooks lunch for more than 30 people on a daily basis.
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