At first, the idea of extracting cooking gas from food leftovers and animal waste seemed far-fetched to Palestinian Marwan Abu Muhareb, 49, who lives in Wadi As-Salqa, a village in the centre of the Gaza Strip.
Video from the ICRC
However, a successful experiment conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza, inside Abu Mouhareb’s small farm adjacent to his house, turned illusion into reality.
In July 2018, the ICRC provided a small device for Abu Muhareb, no more than two meters in size, divided into several parts, to turn those organic wastes into cooking gas.
Food leftovers or animals’ manure were poured into part of the device called the “digester”, which processes that waste – under certain conditions – provided by the machine, to produce cooking gas and organic fertiliser used in agriculture.
Through a long tube, Abu Muhareb connects the device directly to the stove. He now depends mainly on the gas produced by the device.
The Palestinian farmer fills the device with food leftovers and animals’ waste every day, so it continues to produce cooking gas and organic fertiliser.
Every day, he goes out to the farm to collect the animals’ manure to use it later for gas production.
Abu Muhareb, who used to buy two cooking gas cylinders a month for 120 shekels (about $ 33.3), purchases now only one now.
The cooking gas the machine produces has saved the farmer the price of the second cylinder (about $ 16.6), he told the Anadolu Agency.
Abu Muhareb described this device as a “significant shift” that occurred in his life during the previous period.
He noted that the device did not function properly at the beginning; however, after 21 days, it started processing cooking gas and organic fertiliser.
Abu Muhareb cleans the device every three months, and waits 21 days after each cleaning process, to get cooking gas.
The device also provides Abu Muhareb, who used to buy a litter of organic fertiliser for 15 shekels (more than $ 4), with about two litres of organic fertiliser for free every two days.
This technology enables #Gaza farmers turn household waste into clean cooking gas and organic fertilizer. Supporting vulnerable communities with environmental friendly projects. pic.twitter.com/8jrfmo0K3B
— ICRC in Israel & OT (@ICRC_ilot) December 20, 2018
Quality of agriculture
Abu Muhareb stands in front of his trees today with utter satisfaction, as his fruits grew more substantial, and tasted sweeter.
He stated: “Since I started using organic fertiliser, the quality of the fruit produced by the farm has improved significantly. The size of the fruit became bigger, and it tasted sweeter.”
He explained that he conducted the first experiment on the orange tree, providing it with one litter of organic fertiliser almost every month, which boosted the quality of oranges in a completely different way than in previous years.
The farmer also used organic fertiliser to ripen excellent quality tomatoes in the greenhouse.
Abu Muhareb relies on agriculture as an essential source of income for him and his family in light of the deterioration of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
The ICRC’s spokeswoman in Gaza, Suheir Zaqout, told the Anadolu Agency that the project is still in an experimental stage until now.
She indicated: “Only ten units for natural gas production have been imported and given to farmers who are located in border areas and own animals, particularly those most affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip.”
The device uses food leftovers and animal’s dung, to produce natural gas and organic fertiliser, Zaqout said.
According to Zaqout, this device is used to solve the problem of organic waste and spread the culture of safe agriculture in Gaza using organic fertiliser.
The device is charged with “solar energy and bacterial reactions that take place inside it”, while it costs about $700.
By providing these devices to farmers, the ICRC aims to move from the mechanism of immediate aid distribution to providing assistance that can make a lasting difference in the lives of targeted beneficiaries.
Zaqout continued: “As the saying goes, you give a poor man a fish, and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
The ICRC is following up the results of the use of these devices. Thus, Zaqout conveyed the Committee’s satisfaction with those results which it says are “encouraging”.
Zaqout hopes that the project will be expanded to reach larger groups in the community, calling on the authorities in the Gaza Strip and the organisations operating in it to create environmentally friendly projects and contribute to solving the economic problems the population is facing.
Israel has imposed a siege on the population of Gaza, more than two million people, since the victory of Hamas movement in the legislative elections in January 2006, tightening pressures in the following year, following the Hamas takeover of the Strip, as a result of disputes with Fatah movement which are still ongoing.
The poverty rate in Gaza has exceeded 80 per cent, while unemployment rates rose to about 54 per cent, according to The Popular Committee against the Siege (PCAS), non-governmental, and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (governmental).
According to a report released by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP,) on 19 December, some 70 per cent of Gazans are suffering from food insecurity.