The SNV-supported domestic biogas programmes in 17 countries in Asia and Africa have managed to install over half a million biodigesters by the end of 2012. The Biogas Support Programme (BSP) in Nepal and the Biogas Programme (BP) in Vietnam are the longest running programmes. They account for over 80% of this total production. The biogas programmes in Africa have achieved a total of 24,000 biodigesters in the past three years only.

As a result, since 1992, 2.9 million people have been benefiting from clean cooking energy and smoke-free kitchens. Workloads have been reduced and the health of especially women and children has improved. The biodigesters also produce a potent organic fertiliser for increased agricultural production.

These achievements have been made possible with the support of many donors, in particular the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. DGIS has supported the BSP in Nepal from its inception in 1992 up till 2010. Since 2003, DGIS has also been instrumental in co-financing the BP in Vietnam, and since 2006 in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia. Another five country programmes (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burkina Faso) under the Africa Biogas Partnership Programme are supported by DGIS since 2009.

Other donors that financially support the biogas programmes include German Development Bank (KfW), World Wildlife Fund, Blue Moon Fund, Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, Hivos, People in Need (PIN), the Netherlands Finance Development Company (FMO) and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The financial contributions of the donors have mainly been used to cover the costs of setting-up and running a programme by local partners and to provide incentives for biogas farmers. These subsidies for farmers play an important role in the programmes, as they lower the threshold for families to invest in a biogas plant, serve as promotional tool for biogas companies and guarantee the quality of the units installed. The households, however, remain the main investors through financing the major part of the biodigesters in cash and/or credit.

SNV has supported the set-up and implementation of national programmes on domestic biogas. SNV’s ‘multi-stakeholder sector development approach’ aims to build on organisational and institutional capacities already available in the country. SNV helps to strengthen these capacities of local and national partners. SNV provides a range of services, e.g. technical assistance, brokering microcredit and carbon schemes, as well as facilitating training and strict quality control components in the programme.

The total of 500,000 biodigesters installed has made an important contribution to the development of a biogas sector in each country. The long-term objective of each biogas programme is to arrive at a commercially viable biogas sector, which can be sustained without any Official Development Assistance (ODA), possibly by applying carbon revenues from the compliance and/or voluntary market.