Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
IN an effort to reduce deforestation and protect the natural environment, a leading tourism company in Victoria Falls, Wild Horizon, has embarked on a community biogas digester project targeting areas around the resort city.
The company set-up the model bio digester at Headman Ncube’s homestead in Monde village and is working on replicating the project in neighboring villages.
The facility will be used by the whole community and between 10 and 12 families stand to benefit.
The nine cubic-metre bio-digester is fed with 20kg of cow dung and 20 liters of water daily to ensure a constant supply of gas for a two-plate stove.
The initiative is a response to high rates of deforestation, which tourism operators fear will in the long run result in wildlife migration and equally threaten safari activity that most tourists enjoy when they visit Victoria Falls.
The thick bush is also fast dwindling due to cutting down of trees for firewood, which is compounded by prevailing electricity challenges.
Some people in other areas also cut down indigenous trees for firewood and charcoal and between 100 000 hectares and 320 000 hectares of forests are lost annually in Zimbabwe, according to the Forestry Commission.
Last year the forestry watchdog banned transportation and selling of firewood and charcoal as a way of preventing cutting down of trees.
Besides threatening wildlife and tourism as a whole, deforestation also causes global warming. It is against this background that Wild Horizon decided to introduce alternative sources of energy in rural communities and purchased a nine cubic meter biogas digester, which has a two-plate stove and produces gas from cow dung and water.
The project seeks to enhance sustainable use of natural energy and reduce cutting down of trees for firewood.
Wild Horizon corporate affairs director, Ms Barbara Murasiranwa, said the model bio digester was set up in Monde because tourists visit the area.
“This is a typical stove and can even cook foods that need longer time to prepare. The idea is to preserve the environment by preventing cutting down of trees so that we maintain a sustainable environment,” she said during the commissioning of the project.
“The environment has been facing immense pressure due to population growth and this has resulted in an increase in exploitation of resources.
“We believe we will get partners to do more projects and purchase more biogas digesters for the community.”
Headman Ncube welcomed the project as a positive development that will benefit the whole community.
“This is a good project which will see everyone benefiting and in turn help conserve our environment,” he said.
Another traditional leader Mr Jaheliduna Ndlovu popularly known as Mpisi of Monde, who is also a tour operator as he provides traditional meals to tourists at his homestead, said the bio digester will enhance village tourism.
“This can be used by 10 to 12 people per day and will benefit the whole community including tourists who come for village tours,” said Mr Ndlovu.
To set up a biogas digester one needs about US$1 500. [email protected]