Climate change is real – a fact evident now more than ever thanks to the extreme temperatures, wildfires, and melting ice caps throughout the world. Some states have been leading the conversation on climate while others refuse to acknowledge it.
At the same time, multinational corporations continue to use their political power to push back any policies hindering their operations as they continue to pollute the environment. Change is the utmost priority, but it doesn't come overnight. So, to beat the climate issue, the world needs to start taking baby steps towards a better tomorrow, just like this prison in Malawi.
Malawi’s Biogas-Powered Prison
Malawi is a land-locked state in Africa’s southeast which 18.63 million people call home. While it is famous for hosting the great Lake Malawi, it is also home to a plethora of forests. Malawi’s Mulanje Prison is located in its southernmost end and previously, it used to rely on the wood from the forest as fuel for their food preparation – that is until they were introduced to the biogas digester.
What Is a Biogas Digester?
At the prison, Felix Chimombo has the responsibility to wake up early and prepare food for 200 fellow inmates – just imagine how much wood such a process would require. When the prison installed the biogas chamber, they were able to continue their daily work without a need for wood. This is because the biogas digester is a device that converts organic matter into energy and the organic matter used in this case is none other than human feces. The digester has an inlet that allows the feces and any other organic waste to enter into it, which is then mixed with water. This creates an anaerobic environment, activating bacteria that aids in the breakdown of waste into methane. The methane then travels through pipes and reaches the stoves of the prison’s kitchen.
Benefits of a Biogas Digester
Chimombo states that the digester has been greatly helpful for the prison. Not only does it provide a sustainable fuel source for the prison, it no longer requires prisoners to spend their days and nights collecting wood. He also mentions that many inmates were skeptical about it before the digester was installed, considering its nature. They assumed that it would create a sewerage smell across the prison but to their surprise, it didn’t. Methane is odorless, efficient, and gets meals ready quickly.
This is the perfect example of turning a bad situation into a good one. The biogas digester helps save the prisoner’s time, energy, resources while simultaneously protecting the forests.