Myanmar, a land with more than 50 million inhabitants, located in Southeast Asia. In one small village in the south of the country a project is underway producing biogas electrical energy. It is the fruit of a common effort.
“Ever since 1860,” parish priest Father. Carolus Su Naing recounts, “the parish has served the local church by focusing on the social and pastoral development of the local people, and over time four parishes were begun: Pinle, Aima, Pein ne gone, Myitkalay and Wakema where over 8,000 Catholics are living. Kanazogone has always played a vital role in caring for the neediest people in the region. In 2008, when cyclone “Nargis” hit the delta region, our village became a centre for refugees: more than 3000 people who had been hit by the cyclone.”
What is the situation like now, Father?
“Currently, Kanazagone doesn’t receive electrical power from the state,” the focolarino priest explains. “All the villagers must find their own light, using candles and batteries. Only very few homes have their own generator. Recently we spoke with the village leaders about the necessity of having a powerful enough generator that would be able to provide electrical power for all the families in the village. The installation of a strong biogas generator would help to improve the life of the village and the ability to work.”
We asked Rolf Ifanger from the Focolare, who is directly involved in the project, how such a generator would work:
“A biogas generator could run a dynamo of 200 KW, which would be plenty for the entire village. It is a Myanmar invention. The novelty lies in the fact that biogas is produced from the combustion of rice husk, which is a waste product. The rice husk that is generally discarded can be used quite efficiently to produce biogas electrical energy. Moreover, technical support would be provided by the local producer of the motor. Many such machines are already being used quite successfully in Myanmar. This region is surrounded by rice fields. The rice mill where the grain is processed is found here in this village. This project, which is guided by the engineer inventor and by the chief of the village, began in 2013 with the arrival of a € 25.000 loan. It will have to be repaid within five years at minimal interest. We are making the strong experience of how God guides us and orients us to do things that are useful for the life of the villagers.”
What are your expectations for when the generator will be up and running?
“Thanks to the light and energy that will be generated by the biogas plant,” Fatherr Su Naing assures us, “the daily life of the villagers will improve. Their incomes will rise, giving them the chance to work at home in the early evening hours. The light and energy will support the schools and clinics in the village during normal hours and during emergencies. The children will carry out their tasks more easily. Street lights will provide a sense of security, encouraging social life.”