On the occasion of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17), the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a site visit to a community-based mitigation project in the nearby province of Richmond which is helping local communities increase their access to sustainable energy.
The project goal was to introduce alternative energy sources to the use of fossil fuels in rural South Africa and to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of using biogas to address climate change and deforestation while improving the livelihoods of the community. In the course of the implementation of the project, Trade plus Aid and the Zakhe Agricultural College initiated the construction of 10 domestic biogas digesters in Pateni, Richmond as well as one demonstration site in the college, which has been used as a training unit and learning center for the community and now receives over 1,500 visitors per year. To date, this innovative has avoided the use of 45 tons of fire wood annually, reduced 7.5 tons of CO2 equivalent and saved an average of US$20 dollars per household a month on the purchase of fuel as they switched to biogas energy stoves.
Photo: Councilor Ragavaloo welcoming the delegates at the Richmond Municipality.
During the visit, the delegates were welcomed by the local government of Richmond at the offices of the Municipal Government where councilmen and other government officials including the Mayors of the provinces of Richmond and Umgungundlovu received the delegates with a warm reception. Councilor Ragavaloo, the Mayor of the Richmond Municipality explained the main challenges and accomplishments faced by its municipality and praised the valuable work made by the communities, with the support of the GEF Small Grants Programme, in addressing climate change and other sustainable development issues. After the welcoming reception, the participants visited the community where 10 households benefitted from the installation of biogas digesters.
Photo: Community members explain how they had benefited from the use of biogas.
The programme was implemented in collaboration with the "One home, One garden" programme of Zakhe Agricultural College, as a way to use the bio-slurry residue from the biogas, which is rich in nutrients, as fertiliser for household gardens and help address the issue of food security for the families in the community. As a result, the project was able to further reduce tree cutting and deforestation, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
After lunch, the participants also learned about another community project, supported by the GEF SGP through which a women run cooperative established a local energy center in Nkweletsheni , Highflats providing the local community with affordable and sustainable energy sources.