Major milestone in Cambodia’s shift to renewable energy


Mrs Noun Vanna from Koul village is the proud owner of the 20,000th biodigester under the Royal Government of Cambodia’s National Biodigester Programme. Supported by SNV in Cambodia since 2005, the National Biodigester Programme (NBP) aims to establish a self-sustaining, market driven, domestic biodigester sector.

The biodigesters not only provide people with cheap energy, explained SNV Cambodia Country Director Wilbert Schouten, but a range of other benefits. “A biodigester is one of the best investments anyone can make in Cambodia,” said Mr Schouten. With a single investment, it improves peoples’ lives in four important areas.” He continued: “A biodigester replaces last century’s kitchen fires with modern cooking through biogas. In a home that is often dark after sunset, it provides lighting in two rooms every night. “Every year, a biodigester replaces $75 dollars worth of chemical fertilizer with nutrient rich bio-slurry. And, when a toilet is attached, the household dramatically upgrades their sanitation situation.” Financially, the system pays for itself in less than 24 months, added Mr. Schouten. There are 110,000 direct users in 14 provinces. About 300 people have full time employment, while another 500 people have part-time jobs. 

The televised ceremony held on 24 February was led by His Excellency Om Kimsir, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. As a co-initiating partner with the Government of Cambodia, SNV is proud to be associated with the National Biodigester Programme and its wide range of stakeholders. In addition to farmers and masons, they include the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC); microfinance institutions like PRASAC, Amret and Hattha Kaksekar; and private sector construction and maintenance companies. The other international partners are the Czech Development Agency (CzDA) via People In Need (PIN) and the German Development Agency (GIZ). The various partners in the National Biodigester Programme hope that around 50,000 biodigesters can be installed nationwide by the year 2020.