A project that trained five families in St Vincent and the Grenadines to build their own biogas digester has won an international award.
The Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) won the Energy Globe Award based on the project, which also teaches local communities about the benefits of biogas as a renewable energy, global warming, climate change and organic farming.
This is the second consecutive year that the institution has won the National Energy Globe Award St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Last year’s winner was the RVA’s “Pass-it-On Sustainable Model Gardens”.
“We express our warmest congratulations to you and are looking forward to more projects in such a high quality that help our earth to remain liveable,” Wolfgang Neumann, Founder of Energy Globe Foundation, said in announcing the award.
With more than 182 participating countries and over 2,000 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is the most prestigious environmental prize worldwide.
It distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserve resources such as energy or utilise renewable or emission-free sources.
The aim of the Energy Globe is to raise global attention on sustainable, everywhere applicable environmental solutions and to motivate people to also become active in this area.
The five families benefit directly economically, as they replace liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which they had to purchase for cooking gas, with home-produced biogas.
On average, a family of five to seven members uses four to five hours of cooking gas daily, which costs US$25 per month or US$300 per year.
The biogas digester can provide five hours of cooking gas.
Some 3,000 persons were sensitized to the use of renewable energy in schools, communities and through local radio stations.
Like other small island development states, St Vincent and the Grenadines has been experiencing the effects of climate change variability over the past decade. Among the effects of climate change are increased tropical cyclones and flash floods.
The project seeks to create a financially viable model for ordinary families to produce their own biogas for cooking.
It also aims at increasing awareness about climate change and adaptation strategies, in terms of renewable energy sources, reducing pollution and building resilience.
The focus of the project has been on training volunteers, raising awareness about climate change issues, reforestation and conservation efforts, pollution reduction, education of youth and on promoting climate smart agriculture.
Meanwhile, RVA continues to expand its home garden programme, with 50 such gardens under cultivation across the country.
Of the home gardens in North Leeward, the last 30 are financed by the GEF Global Environment Facility Small Grant Programme and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture.
RVA will help with the creation of 10 gardens in Fancy, supported by Mustique Charitable Trust, and hopes to expand the number of gardens across St Vincent to 200 by 2021.
The programme has been expanded to the Belle Isle Correctional Facility.
Corporal Malcolm, head of the prison farm at Belle Isle, spoke of the impact that the programme has had on inmates.
“With the help and advice of our volunteer gardener, Emris and some students from RVA, we set seeds, constructed permanent beds with bamboo; we mulch, we plant seedlings and we make sure that the organic garden is well taken care of,” Malcolm said.
He added: “What a wonderful opportunity for all of us! Can you imagine the impact of working together as a group, inmates together with officers, with volunteers from the community and from abroad?
It is a beautiful lesson for all of us, we learn from each other, we open up to new ideas, we teach each other and we work together. It creates very strong bonds and a sense of belonging.”