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Reducing Emissions with Biogas While Helping the Community - Côte d'Ivoire

This initiative is helping Côte d'Ivoire communities plant oilseed-producing trees and then process the oil into biofuel. “National Biogas Project Reducing Emissions While Providing Community Benefits” combines drylands farming with sustainable biofuel production, in the process sequestering atmospheric carbon and generating income for local women’s associations.

Fast facts:

  • Future goals to plant 3 million trees in 30 villages
  • Goal to set up a nursery with 1 million saplings
  • One household biogas unit eliminates 5 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year

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The problem

The northern Côte d'Ivoire is largely savannah with scarce natural resources – especially water. Farm holdings are small, and as much as two-thirds of farmland is not fit for agricultural production; what arable land there is, is becoming ever less productive. As the climatic and socioeconomic situation worsens, more families are going into debt, while increasing water scarcity has forced a rural exodus. Desperate farmers in the region fear the future. Communities there need new livelihood opportunities that are sustainable, provide them with stable income, and can connect them to fast-growing markets.

The solution

A non-governmental organization is working with women to promote cultivation of Jatropha and Pongamia, species of oilseed-bearing trees that can survive in semi-arid environments. Women’s organizations are trained to collect wild seeds, and establish plantations from which to harvest cultivated seeds. Oil processed from the seeds is sold to local biodiesel processors, and seedcakes are sold to locals as bio-coal briquettes, or bio-fertilizer to boost crop yields. Fruit trees can be interspersed with the oilseed trees, while the initiative is also developing vegetable gardens and promoting adaptation measures for goat- and sheep-farmers.

Helping the planet

Planting trees sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, helping prevent further climate change. Since communities rely on continued harvest from the trees insures they won’t be cut down. Using more biofuel will reduce dependency on fossil fuels, which also helps against climate change – and reduces felling wood for fuel, preventing deforestation, as well. Spreading organic fertilizer on cropland prevents use of damaging chemicals on the soil.

Helping people

The women’s associations are expected to reap profits from sale of the seedcakes and oil. Communities will also benefit from having a wider array of options to make money, and food. Enriched farmlands free from damaging chemicals could also increase crop yields, contributing to better food security. Use of a renewable, sustainable fuel source eliminates the need to gather firewood, giving women more time for other activities.

Spillover effect

The program could be scaled up, as biofuel processors face a shortage of stock for their operations. The project intends to sell emission reduction credits, which prevents it from becoming dependent on international donors, promoting self-sufficiency and allowing potential for growth.

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