Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Seasonal variability of resources: The unexplored adversary of biogas use in rural Ethiopia

Wardle, Jennifer M.; Fischer, Anke; Tesfaye, Yitna; Smith, Jo


Biogas digester programmes have been rolled out across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade with varying levels of success. In Ethiopia, reported success rates have been low, despite high levels of interaction between non-governmental organisations and various levels of government, plus the establishment of practical eligibility criteria. In Halaba, Ethiopia, we investigated physical and social factors affecting feedstock and water availability using a face-to-face questionnaire-based survey (n = 112) in four kebeles (local administration areas). We found that practices of fuel use and water collection were markedly different between seasons. Fuel use was almost entirely dependent on season, with wood being burned in the wet season and crop residues and cow dung being used instead in the dry season. A matched pair t-test found a significant difference between seasons in terms of water collection times (p = 7.4 × 10−16), with households spending more time and money obtaining clean drinking water in the dry season. Results indicate that seasonal differences in resource availability may reduce the proportion of households that meet the physical characteristics for maintaining a biogas digester by approximately 62% from wet season to dry season. Conversely, the greatest benefits of digester use would be gained in the dry season, when dung could be returned to the soil as a nutrient-rich bioslurry, instead of being combusted as a dirty and inefficient fuel. Seasonality is rarely considered in feasibility studies, so we recommend that these factors should be built into future analyses.


biogas; sustainability; season; Ethiopia; water; anaerobic digestion

Published in

Current Research in Environmental Sustainability
2021, volume: 3, article number: 100072

Authors' information

Wardle, Jennifer M.
University of Aberdeen
The James Hutton Institute
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Tesfaye, Yitna
Hawassa University
Smith, Jo
University of Aberdeen

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

URI (permanent link to this page)