Building a biodigester market in Zambia - Lessons learnt

Buidling biodigesters

SNV in Zambia publishes a report on the results and lessons learnt from implementing the € 6.5 million Energy for Agriculture (E4A) project.

The project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) sought to increase access of households, public services, and businesses to productive biodigester technology, to ultimately improve livelihoods through providing mostly farming households access to clean energy, increased employment and income, and improved living conditions through productive use of biogas and bio-slurry.

Among other interventions, the E4A project was designed to initially facilitate the construction of 3,375 biodigesters by April 2018 but was extended up to December 2019 to install 1,200 additional biodigesters, bringing the new target to 4,575 units. For the implementation of the project, SNV set up coordination units across Zambia in Namwala, Choma, Monze, Mazabuka, Lundazi, Katete, Kabwe, Ndola and Kasama.
Though the market is still at a very early, pre-commercial stage, the E4A project achieved unprecedented results in the context of Zambia over the duration of the project between May 2015 and December 2019. The E4A project managed to support the installation of 4,878 digesters through a market-based approach over a period of five years (2015-2019), i.e. 3% of the technical potential1. The project provided not only access to clean energy and potent organic fertiliser for thousands of rural families; it also built capacities of businesses in the sector which generated employment and income in the rural areas.

The E4A project gathered knowledge and evidence during design and implementation. This knowledge supported the project by informing performance improvements, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvement of the process and outcomes. Information and knowledge management within E4A helped to make knowledge and reliable data available to inform decision-making throughout the project life cycle, reduce the cost-of-service delivery, and align understanding of the benefits of biodigester technology.

The purpose of this report is to share the knowledge gathered, to capture the lessons learnt under the E4A project and to document these for use by others in similar projects. This document shares knowledge about the experience of developing and implementing a biodigester programme that is comprehensive in scope and requires broad stakeholder participation. Specifically, the document highlights the project approach and lessons learnt with the aim of promoting the replication of desirable outcomes while learning how to mitigate undesirable outcomes in similar projects.

You can click here to read the full report.