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Cow dung to cooking gas: an Ethiopian nunnery converts

August 20, 2007:

The Ethiopian church is increasingly active on environmental projects.

Work has begun on an ARC-funded project just outside Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

A bio-digester, which produces combustible gas from waste organic material like cow dung, is currently being constructed at Sebata nunnery, 25 kilometres from the Ethiopian capital.

The methane gas produced will provide fuel for cooking meals for more than one thousand local children at the nunnery’s school and for over two hundred orphaned children. In addition, it’s hoped that it will not only reduce the level of respiratory disease and eye irritations because of the pollution from cooking fires, but that it will free many of the girls from punishing hours of collecting fuel wood each day.

Reducing the number of trees cut down to provide fuel is another expected by-product from the biogas unit along with providing an excellent source of slurry as a high quality fertilizer for the nunnery’s crops.

Additional funds generated will be ploughed back into education and care for orphans of HIV/AIDS. Currently the nunnery looks after 210 children and elderly mothers.

ARC’s partner in the project is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which administers the nunnery. It’s hoped that further co-operation between the Church and the UNDP might result in the funding of similar projects in monasteries throughout the country which would benefit the environment and improve the lives of Ethiopians in rural areas.

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