Survey revealed bio-digester improved users' livelihood


Bio-digester Users’ Survey (BUS) 2019 confirmed that families who have invested in bio-digester have improved their livelihood, significantly.

In order to monitor the effects of biogas and bio-slurry use on households, Biogas Dissemination Scale-up Programme (NBPE+) conducted a Bio-digester Users’ Survey (BUS) 2019. The findings revealed that families using bio-digester technology are enjoying significant improvement in livelihood. The improvement in livelihood resulted from money and time savings, increased production and productivity, and income generation activities. Besides the socio-economic impacts, there are clear and quantifiable local and global environmental benefits.


“My family used to spend lots of money to buy firewood. After using bio-digester we are, on average, saving 300 birr as we are cooking most of our food except injera on the bio-gas stove” said Birhane Shumye, Tigray region.

Rural households in Ethiopia are highly dependent on biomass like firewood and cattle dung in traditional stoves. According to the BUS 2019, all the surveyed 200 biogas user households use biomass as well as biogas as sources of energy. These households reported that they used charcoal and fuelwood for cooking. Every week a household, on average, consumes 73 kilograms of firewood and 19 kilograms of charcoal. After using biogas as an alternative energy source, their consumption has reduced to 60.5 kilograms per week (by 21%) firewood and 4.7 kilograms of charcoal per week. This shows that 57% of households have saved about ETB 110 (USD 4) per month from their energy expenditure. If the promotion and commercialisation of injera baking mitad has been increased the saving would have been more significant as most of the energy is used for preparing this staple food. 

Production and productivity

Studies on bio-slurry, co-product of bio-digester, revealed that users are befitting from applying it as organic fertiliser, engaging in slurry business (liquid and composted), improved soil fertility and water holding capacity, increased productivity, and reduced vulnerability to pest.

The BUS has also monitored and evaluated the effects of biogas and bio-slurry use on households. Respondents said that bio-slurry has improved productivity from 17.58 quintals to 19.02 quintals per hectare. On the other hand, demand for chemical fertilisers has significantly reduced (105 kilogram to 77.52 kilogram) after application of the organic fertiliser. It has also created positive result in pest management. Users (67%) reported that the occurrence of pests has reduced resulting in a significant increase in saving from purchase of chemical fertilisers.

Other socio-economic impacts of bio-digester technology

Income generation activity

Rural women and girls spend significant amount of their time collecting fuelwood and other energy sources. According to this survey, most women and girls (84%), children, boys and adults in the survey woredas have carried the burden of collecting firewood. After bio-digester the women are spending the hours saved per day to get involved in social and income generating activities. The survey added, “91%  of respondents  stated  that  using  biogas  for  cooking  reduced  women’s  time  to  cook which  women  otherwise  use  for  agriculture/IGA  (71%),  [adult]  education  (61%),  social works (56%) and to spend with rest (41%).” According to BUS women interviewees, they have a chance to engage in mini trade and agricultural activities. 

About the survey

A total of 200 biogas users were interviewed in 16 woredas of eight zone administrations of the four survey regions: Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNPR. Out of these 92% are male-headed; 7.5% female-headed and 0.5% child-headed households. This study focused on biogas uses that joined the programme from 2015–2017 and employed both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods.

The BUS mainly will be used to monitor and evaluate the effects of biogas and bio-slurry use on households; provide feedback for improvements and review of the programme or its approaches and activities and; establish the woody biomass usage per household as per the guidelines of the Clean Development Mechanism’s small-scale approved methodology.

NBPE+ Biogas  Dissemination  Scale-Up Programme  (NBPE+)  aims  to  improve  the  living standards  of  farmers with funding from the Ethiopian government and European Union.