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Rwanda’s Prison System Innovates Energy From Human Waste

A Hutu man looks out the window of his cell at a Kigali prison Wednesday, April 5, 1995.

Rwanda’s prison system has an innovative use for human waste – it turns the sewage into biogas for cooking.

Mary Gahonzire, Deputy Commissioner General of Rwanda’s Correctional Service, said eleven detention centers in Rwanda currently use the sewage-turned-biogas for three-quarters of their cooking gas needs.

“We save a lot of money,” she said. “We saved about 800 million in the local currency in 2010. In 2011 we saved more, over 1 billion.” That adds up to more than 1.5 million US dollars.

Gahonzire says the prison department plans to expand the program, so that bio gas could possibly be used to power lights and other energy needs.

“For now we are using it as cooking gas, but the projection of costs is there,” she said. “Ultimately we are going to use it [to help with] electricity.”

Gahonzire added that the bio gas program is part of a larger government initiative to work toward environmentally sustainability throughout the country.