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Nepal: green prisons - use of biogas improves livesinside prisons

05-06-2009 Article, Nepali Times

Article published by the Nepali Times on 5 June 2009 and reproduced here with the newspaper's kind permission.

By Mallika Aryal, in Kaski

It is early morning in Kaski prison and prisoners have just finished preparing their meals on eco-friendly stoves. Until last year, 209 detainees in this prison used to spend a big part of the Rs 45 daily government allowance per inmate on kerosene and half their day in smoky kitchens. But thanks to the introduction of biogas stoves, that’s all changed. “Cooking was an ordeal, and it was unbearable to stay in the kitchen area for long because of the smoke from the kerosene stoves,” says Raju Bogati, who cooks for his group in the Kaski mess.

Kaski, Kanchanpur and Chitwan prisons  were all renovated last year by Nepal’s International Committee of the Red Cross and the Prison Management Department . They have all been equipped with biogas plants and gas-stoves. “While domestic use of biogas is well known, this is a perfect example of how biogas can also be successfully used in large scale institutional settings,” says Gisella McGuinness, co-coordinator of the Water and Habitat section of the ICRC, which has taken on the initiative in the three prisons. “The project seeks to ensure cleanliness, good health, self-sufficiency environmental preservation and relieves economic pressure on the inmates and their families in terms of fuel, as a result they can access nutritional food,” adds ICRC’s Rafiullah Qureshi.

Since the prison started managing the project in September last year, the detainees in Kaski have been maintaining the plants and stoves themselves. Two separate digesters are hooked to the toilets in the prison and organic kitchen waste can also be fed directly through outlets in the kitchen. “This is perfect for us— there’s no w astage in the kitchen, no extra money spent on fuel and we feel empowered that we can run the plant and the

stoves ourselves,” says Maya Pun in the women’s wing.

Kaski prison’s jailer Uma Kanta Poudel says that equipping the prison was only the first step and it’s now up to the government to ensure sustainability by providing the expertise and budget for maintenance and repairs. “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure acceptable living conditions of detainees in prison. They should replicate and take a lead role in projects like these in the future,” he says.

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