National Biogas Programme - Nicaragua


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The National Biogas Programme aims to increase the access to and use of non-conventional renewable energy in rural Nicaragua. By developing a sustainable biogas market we enable agricultural small and medium producers (SMPs) and rural households to access renewable energy.

Rural households in Nicaragua typically rely on wood for cooking and heating, and kerosene for light. Smoke from basic stoves and kerosene lamps is a major source of indoor air pollution, and can lead to chronic respiratory illnesses, particularly among women and children, who traditionally spend more time in the household. Rural families also spend significant amounts of time or money on gathering or purchasing fuel, which they could otherwise devote to other activities and expenditures. Nicaragua has the second lowest electrification rate in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with 26% of the population lacking access to electricity. Electrification rates are particularly low in rural areas, where as much as 64% of the population does not have access to electricity.  

The primary beneficiaries of the project will be 6,000 agricultural SMPs and rural households of five Nicaraguan departments: Boaco, Matagalpa, Chontales, Rio San Juan and Leon, and the municipalities of Muelle de los Bueyes, Nueva Guinea and Rama in the Southern Autonomous Atlantic Region. They will benefit from access to modern energy through the installation of biogas plants. Successful execution of the project is expected to produce the following benefits:

  • 6,000 agricultural producers with biogas plants installed and functioning;
  • 2,000 agricultural producers have increased their net incomes by 20% as a result of the use of biogas as a productive activity;
  • 378,000 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions reduced as Certified Emissions Reductions;
  • Financial institutions lending for biogas with portfolio at risk > 30 days is less than 5%, as an indicator for financial and commercial sustainability;
  • 70% of participants of the biogas user trainings are women.

Producers will benefit from the technical assistance provided towards the installation of biogas plants and improving farm production in connection to access to renewable energy. Specifically, they will benefit from a source of renewable energy that can be used as a clean fuel for cooking to reduce harmful indoor household air pollution. In addition, biogas users will benefit from biofertilizer – an output of the anaerobic digestion process - which can be easily applied to improve crop yields or sold to neighbours as an additional source of income. 

Private companies, masons, financial institutions and local organizations will also benefit from the technical assistance, as well as from the new business opportunities and jobs created as a result of the development of a market for biogas products and services. The indirect beneficiaries are the communities in the surrounding areas where the project is implemented, who will benefit from improved agriculture waste management. Waste will be contained and treated by natural processes, which can reduce the amount that will pollute waterways and the likelihood of spreading associated diseases and bacteria. 

The project will be executed between 2012 and 2017, and is implemented by SNV in partnership with HIVOS with funding from FOMIN/BID, Nordic Development Fund, HIVOS and SNV.

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