Biogas Associations could be the way to go in Stimulating a sustainable Commercial Biogas Sector in Uganda
By Caroline Tuhwezeine, Communication & Promotions Officer-UDBP
During the last half of the year 2012, UDBP embarked on stimulating formation of what was then termed as “regional biogas dealers’ forums”. The overall purpose of such forums was envisaged to be creation of a platform to enable the different biogas stakeholders to discuss issues that affect the biogas business in their respective regions and to devise means of addressing them.
Before the Program started, a national Biogas Association existed in the name of the Uganda Biogas Association (UBA). However, the association was characterized by a weak grass root structure and has a challenge of visibility and member cohesion.
The formation of Regional Biogas Dealers associations was aimed at establishing a sustainable way of keeping the biogas sector vibrant in the respective regions which would later on stimulate formation of a stronger national body for biogas dealers with deep rooted structures from all the regions of the country. Once this is achieved, the body could be used as a big force for advocacy and influencing sound practices in the biogas sector through lobbying and self regulation.
By the time UDBP thought about regional forums, there were many issues happening in the private sector world of biogas. These included among others quality issues, masons conduct, biogas promotion & marketing, availability of quality materials etc. Although at program level, each of these issues was being attended to, it was very obvious that the most sustainable way of handling such issues was to have the different actors understand and own the said issues and participate fully in finding ways of addressing them. This is the genesis of these forums.
It is however important to note that UDBP was not the starter but played a facilitative role in the formation of the forums. With the help of the business Development Advisor from the program, different actors per region were met and asked to identify the issues that were affecting biogas business in their respective regions. These issues were categorized into those the actors had control over and those where they didn’t. They were then probed on ways in which such issues could be sustainably handled and in all the 3 regions, the actors pointed out the need to have a forum/association or a recognized body as a platform for raising a common voice on biogas related issues.
Currently, UDBP has supported formation of 3 biogas associations based on regions where the program is operating; The Western Biogas Association (WEBA) for dealers in Western Uganda which was launched in March 2013, the Interregional Biogas Association (IBA) for the Central region which was launched in May 2012 and the Eastern Biogas Association which is yet to be launched in June.
All the three associations are still in their infancy stage and their newly elected executive committees will need a lot of technical support from the program on how to effectively manage their associations so that they become sustainable.