Zhang Qingxiu (56) and his wife Gu Zhengyi (49) are really happy to have biogas at
We are standing in their kitchen where they make the lunch ready for us while we talk. "Look how clean it is; no dust or smoke! Very different from life before we got the biogas digester! The kitchen, toilet and animal pen is much cleaner and everything is more hygienic "says Zhang Qingxiu while cutting potatoes into thin strips. They both belong to the Tujia ethnic group, a minority ethnic group in China. For the Tujia and other men in South China, it is not unusual for them to help in the kitchen, especially on special occasions, although women generally do the cooking in the everyday life.
Gu Zhengyi pours a little oil into a wok, and says "see," with a big smile before she lights the flame by turning on a switch. "Before we had to go to great lengths to gather twigs that were hard to find and we spent a lot of time on it. When we cooked, it took a long time to light a fire to cook. Now, we can just turn on a switch; and the flame is there! “says Gu Zhengyi and smiles again.
And it is this simple little flame that simultaneously heats food for this family, lights up the room at night, improves women’s health and burns away the polluting methane gas (whilst also reducing deforestation and carbon emissions as the use of wood and charcoal is no longer necessary) .
Their oldest son, Zhang Guodong (3 ) comes into the smoke free kitchen with his ten month-old daughter ZhangWenXu in his arms. Zhang Guodong and his wife Huo Fang (28) live and work in Shanghai but they have come home to celebrate Chinese New Year with their family, as is the tradition.
For Chinese New Year, people traditionally eat a lot of food, especially food that they would not usually have. "This year we have a lot of delicious food to celebrate with- we have had a bigger harvest than ever before," says Zhang Qingxiu, pointing to large sacks of potatoes. But potatoes are not the only crops that have had a good year because of the high quality organic fertilizer that comes out of the biogas tank after methane gas is evaporated. All of the crops they grow on the farm have had a good harvest: peanuts, corn, sweet potatoes, and yellow beans. "What are you most looking forward to eating for New Year?”I ask Zhang Guodong. "These!" he says, pointing to a chicken walking around the yard pecking at a dry corn grain on the ground.
Biogas has clearly made life better for Qingxiu Zhang and Gu Zhengyi. Over the past five years, NMS has made it possible for over 1,000 families in YONGSHUN in Hunan to get biogas on their farms. Now we want to help to provide biogas for several families in YONGSHUN as well as in Madagascar where we seek to transfer the technology. Do you want to make this possible? You can give a gift to this project here. Have you planned your vacation yet this year? Are you traveling by air? If so, you can make your flights “greener" by buying Carbon Offsets from NMS while enabling farmers in YongShun to get biogas on her farm, thus reducing poverty, protecting the environment and improving women's health. You can buy carbon offsets from this project. For an international flight, we recommend a donation of 30 British Pounds. You can make a donation here.
How do the biogas tanks work? Biogas is formed when animal or human dung and other forms of compost are inserted into a pipe and become methane gas in a tank under the ground. This gas has no smell or smoke, and can be used for cooking and lighting. When the mixture has released the gas, it comes out as a high quality organic fertilizer. This means that Qingxiu Zhang and Gu Zhengyi not only get gas for cooking and lighting, they also get good organic fertilizer that increases crop yields.
In addition to increasing revenue, reducing farming costs and freeing up time for poor farmers, biogas is helping to improve the status of women, improving health and hygiene, as well as protecting the environment.