Sustainable Livelihood & Environment

Zambia: Sustainable Livelihood & Environment

Only 3.2% of inhabitants in Zambia are able to cook or use lights powered by electricity at home. Others most often use wood or charcoal, resulting in a substantially negative impact on the surrounding environment. It is estimated that using this source of fuel in Zambia results in significant deforestation, and up to 300 thousand hectares of soil are lost every year. 

People in Need works in the western province of Zambia in the district of Kalabo, which is among the poorest regions in Zambia. Up to 44% of households lack access to sanitary facilities as well as electricity and gas. Therefore, we are trying to help locals to attain long-term, sustainable sources (e.g., homemade bio-gas plants) which will not pollute the surrounding environment. By building new modern bio-gas plants not only do farmers gain the gas needed for cooking but they also acquire new skills and knowledge leading to the eco-efficient use of their livestock’s manure. Manure can be turned into a highly efficient organic fertiliser which can also lead to improved agricultural production.

Entire text Less text

Ongoing aidORPast aid programmes

Through Biogas Technology Towards Higher Resilience of Communities in Western Province of Zambia

Through Biogas Technology Towards Higher Resilience of Communities in Western Province of Zambia

As part of pilot projects in 2018 - 2019, People in Need introduced the potential of biofuel technology as a source of sustainable household energy and highly efficient organic fertilizer to the people of Zambia's Western Province. An alternative form of energy production in the form of biogas plants has proven to be an effective way to contribute to climate resilience and food security for smallholder farmers. The current follow-up project aims to continue raising awareness of biogas while helping to build an additional 130 biogas plants for residents in the Mongu and Kalabo districts of Zambia's Western Province.


Biogas plants use animal excrements and food scraps to produce gas that can serve households for cooking or lighting. The gas can replace the wood and charcoal that most people in the region rely on. In the absence of alternative energy sources, widespread deforestation and degradation of soil quality is taking place. The incidence of respiratory and eye diseases caused by charcoal use has been increasing, as well as reinforced gender inequalities. In fact, women and girls are disproportionately involved in fuelwood procurement, making it difficult for them to access education or income-generating activities. At the same time, biogas plants can produce high quality organic fertilizers. These help

increasing agricultural production and improve food security for vulnerable households affected by food insecurity related to the impact of both drought and the Covid-19 pandemic

Enhancing bioenergy in Western Province, phase II

Enhancing bioenergy in Western Province, phase II

This project is a follow-up to a previous PIN project from 2018, which took place in Western Province in the Kalabo region and presented the technology of biogas plants to local people. Ten model biogas plants were built under the project.
The main objective of phase two is to help local communities transition to sustainable energy sources. Today, only 3.2 % of Zambia’s rural population has reliable access to electricity. Wood or charcoal is used as a primary energy source, which results in deforestation of the region, breathing problems, and is a drain on productivity (due to time spent collecting these raw materials).
Thanks to large-scale cattle breeding in the region, biogas plants are a natural fit for the local economic context. Farmers working predominantly on sandy soil need quality fertilizers, and biogas plants produce biogas for cooking and highly-effective organic fertilizer for field application.
Various information campaigns are being organized under the project focusing on the technology of biogas plants. These campaigns are carried out through media, as well as via trainings on  biogas plant construction and operation, and organic fertilizer demonstrations. The project also helps local communities create markets for biogas products. Future initiatives could include providing access to financial services to help small farmers.
Access to energy in the Western Province

Access to energy in the Western Province

It is mostly women (70%) who are in charge of cooking and meal preparation in Zambia. Gathering up kindling wood takes them around 8 hours per week. Regular inhaling of combustion gases which are formed during burning wood or charcoal is consequently harmful to the health of women as well as their families. In addition, this kind of thermal treatment adds to deforestation and the soil becomes arid and is of no longer use. Therefore People in Need has now been working with farmers in the poorest districts of the Western Province where the organization helps build efficient and affordable biogas plants. These biogas plants function as a certain “mechanical stomach“: They are fed with organic material (human or animal faeces). If there is no access to oxygen, the organic material decomposes and consequently biogas is produced (methane and carbon dioxide) as well as natural germ-free manure. Biogas can be used either for cooking or as organic manure which can contribute to better and higher value agricultural production. The overall positive environment-friendly impact will be also seen in reduced wood gathering and decreased deforestation.

How else we help