Building, Serving, Learning: Biogas in Uganda

This service-learning opportunity partners undergraduate and graduate students from Makerere University in Uganda with their Nelson Institute counterparts to design and construct a biogas system at the Lweza Primary School in Uganda. The system will convert a mixture of latrine, food, and animal wastes into a clean-burning source of cooking fuel and organic fertilizer. The system will provide 700 Ugandan children and 20 teachers with improved public hygiene and a reliable source of renewable energy while empowering Ugandan graduate and undergraduate students with applied environmental skills training from the UW Madison.

Ugandan faculty and students will also be exposed to new educational methods contained within service-learning concepts. Baldwin support leverages existing university resources and expertise to extend on-going sustainability outreach efforts internationally by building upon five UW programs: (1) Nelson Institute Community Environmental Scholars Program (CESP). CESP promotes service-learning among students who have been historically underrepresented in environmental studies. This project also supports.

Digester under construction at Lweza Primary School.
Digester under construction at Lweza Primary School.

Nelson’s ongoing goal of expanding service learning and community-based research experiences for graduate students. Nelson’s further goal, to develop sustained endowed support for such activities, will be constructed in part around the experiences from this project. (2) The Village Health Project (VHP). Founded in 2006 by UW students, this registered 501(c)(3) non-profit supports projects that improve sanitation, nutrition, and education in Uganda. (3) College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, Health & Nutrition program, which supports ongoing student involvement in the Lweza community. (4) Global Health Institute (GHI). GHI seeks to support research, education, and outreach initiatives that bridge global health and energy policies. (5) NSF CHANGE-IGERT. Anaerobic digester research and outreach was initiated in 2010 as part of a graduate capstone course with the Wisconsin Bioenergy Institute. In June 2012, UW graduate students and alumni led a team of West Point cadets from the US Military Academy to construct a biogas system at a school in Uganda that serves 1400 students. The proposed project builds upon lessons learned from this experience.

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