Cow Dung and Cleaner Energy in Kenya

26 November 2010 at 08:00 7 comments

The town of Murang’a is a rural respite from the commotion of Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital. Our car deftly handled the curvy roads, throwing up dust in its wake on the way to the group loan meeting.

Kiva collaborates with microfinance institutions all over the world to facilitate loans to small-business entrepreneurs. One of its partners, Juhudi Kilimo, focuses on giving agricultural loans to small-scale farmers across Kenya and has a branch in the town of Murang’a.

The outskirts of Murang’a, an hour drive outside of Nairobi 

When a client takes a loan from Juhudi Kilimo, he or she must meet with a larger group of borrowers at least once per month during the loan term. During these meetings, business ideas are tossed around, savings are deposited, and group members update each other on their business troubles and successes.

The meeting takes place at one of the group member’s homes, under the shade of a tree and with a cup of delicious Kenyan tea.


One of the group’s borrowers, a young woman named Esther Marubu, took a second loan from Juhudi Kilimo to construct a biogas unit.  This system takes cow dung and converts it to natural gas, which can be used in the home for cooking and lighting.

Esther and her husband, Geoffrey, standing in front of their cow purchased with their first Juhudi Kilimo loan


1) Cow dung is collected, placed in a fermentation pit, and mixed with an equal amount of water.

2) The mixture, or slurry, travels into the digester where anaerobic digestion takes place, and creates natural gas.

3) The natural gas is piped to the house and used for household tasks such as cooking or lighting.

4) The remaining slurry is now “cleaned” fertilizer which can be used to grow crops such as bananas.


-Reduced air pollution, since there is no longer a need to burn wood

-Healthier environment, because of reduced breathing of wood smoke, which can lead to respiratory diseases

-Less deforestation

-Less time and labor used for collecting firewood

-Harmful bacteria is removed from the manure, which is usually a source of water pollution

-System should last 15 – 20 years without major repairs and even pay for itself after approximately 2 years.


If Esther and Geoffrey’s story has shown you the possibilities which can be achieved through microfinance, please take this opportunity to make a loan today. Click here to loan to a Juhudi Kilimo borrower in Kenya.

 Jenny Coronel is a roaming Kiva Fellow based in Nairobi. She is enjoying trying all the new types of foods Kenya has to offer, including goat intestines.

Entry filed under: KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class). Tags: , , , , .

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  • 1. Jerry  |  30 November 2010 at 17:43

    Hi Jenny – Great post – very informative. I also like your graphic and pics. Did you do the graphic or get it from somewhere?

  • 2. lou  |  29 November 2010 at 07:18

    Thanks for sharing Jenny. It is indeed very informative and interesting.

  • 3. Noel  |  28 November 2010 at 09:30

    Very informative post! Great work Jenny 🙂

  • 4. Aura  |  28 November 2010 at 01:11

    Strong work community! 🙂

  • 5. Tara Capsuto  |  27 November 2010 at 22:59

    Great post & nice photos, Jenny!

  • 6. Michelle  |  27 November 2010 at 22:04

    Very cool Jenny! Excellent post.

  • 7. Hector Jerome Daddy  |  26 November 2010 at 22:14

    my dad would want to do the same thing with swine dung. I’ll show this to him later.

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