12 Nov 2018
Qena, Egypt
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

As an agricultural country, Egypt doesn’t seem to tap into its full potential in matters of reusing and recycling agricultural waste, including animal manure. And despite using almost half of the waste, either as a fertilizer or animal feed, the rest remains a health hazard due to burning. Ensan Aid took an age-old idea and made a sweeping movement out of it bioconverting animal manure, especially, into an energy-generating program.

Ensan Aid, which is a non-profit organization aiming to help underprivileged communities in Egypt and West Africa was founded by international development expert Mahmoud Elsaman, and has been a functional entity since 2014 with an ample focus on sustainable development while offering support to women and girls. Ensan Aid’s Chief Operating Officer, Rehab Elmasry is a staunch believer in one of the organization’s many initiatives, namely generating biogas from animal manure for sustainable rural development.

“We ideally and sustainably help rural areas with their problems and one of them stands out disposing of manure. Without proper treatment of the waste, there’s a higher chance of attracting insects and eventually spreading diseases,” Elmasry says. “That along with the spike in gas (propane cylinders) prices made us connect the two pressing issues to work on a plan of building biogas units turning manure into biogas through anaerobic conversion,” she adds.

Between helping farmers and households, Elmasry opted for more knowledge on the matter, except she was faced with a familiar hurdle: lack of awareness on biogas and installing units at home. “People were scared the units would pose some danger like catching fire, which prompted us to spread awareness around the advantages of recycling organic and inorganic materials in their households and starting own enterprises,” Elmasry notes. She further explained that such knowledge can be procured through seminars held by the Ministry of Environment.

Ensan Aid proceeded to campaign for setting up biogas units through training the youth on how to set up these units in Qena governorate, in Upper Egypt. “In parallel, we managed to connect with a number of companies in that field in neighboring cities and even Cairo,” Elmasry says.

She described the process saying that manure gets stored in underground units where an anaerobic reaction takes place, producing energy to be used in the form of gas as well as organic fertilizer.

In order to deploy such knowledge and applied expertise, people interested in setting up these units are usually encouraged to contribute to the costs. “We’ve installed four biogas units so far, and we’re working on unit number five in Tramsa village in Qena,” Elmasry says.

Since its inception, Ensan Aid has operated in West African countries where interest in this process has loomed such as Burkina Faso.

But besides that, the non-profit is invested in other environmental activities involving youth such as recycling old clothes and making kleems (a certain kind of hand-woven carpets.) Founder Elsaman had started an international development program called Sharek (participate, in Arabic), which took place in Jordan and Lebanon. The initiative aimed at planting trees with the revenues later allocated to kids’ heart surgeries.

“Seventy percent of people we employ are women. We start by workshops on the environment and how to efficiently utilize resources and to start their own small businesses,” Elmasry adds.

 

Learn more about Ensan Aid through its website or Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of Ensan Aid.

Ensan Aid Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Management
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