When he piloted a project to rid Lake Victoria of waste pollution from the Kampala City Abattoir, Uganda’s biggest animal slaughterhouse in 2011, Dr Joseph Kyambadde was scorned and mocked.
The head of Makerere University’s department of biochemistry and sports science drew the wrath of butchers at the Bugolobi-based animal slaughterhouse, where more than 1,000 cattle, sheep, goats and chicken are slaughtered daily.
“I remember one official telling me that I’m a daydreamer,” Kyambadde said recently, as he presented details of the successful pilot project at a roundtable meeting for Bio-Innovate Africa stakeholders in Kampala.
The donor-funded network for Eastern Africa development brings together Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funds the training of scientists and promotion of bioscience innovations at universities and research institutions in respective countries. It’s out of this initiative that Kyambadde tapped resources to solve Lufula’s power, filth and environmental pollution problems.
In his presentation, Kyambadde reported that the city abattoir now has an integrated recycle system that produces biogas, electricity and fertilizers generated from its effluents, which include blood from slaughter units, dung and wastewater.
The abattoir used to be dirty and smelly and released untreated wastewaters into Lake Victoria’s Murchison Bay at Luzira. This hurt the ecology and contaminated the lake, the main source of drinking water for Greater Kampala.
But Kyambadde and his team have built an integrated recycle system, which takes in solid waste and wastewater from the slaughterhouse and passes it through a fermentation process to emit methane gas.
Once captured, methane is burnt to produce electricity. Kyambadde says the system generates 18KW of electric power, which is used for security lighting, running refrigerators and deep freezers in the meat storage units at the abattoir. It also produces between 20 and 25 cubic metres of biogas daily.
The biogas is used to power the abattoir’s generators, which were previously run on diesel fuels. Officials are pleased that the biogas has not only saved millions of shillings spent on buying diesel but heavily reduced air pollution at the facility because its clean form of energy.
“Pollution of the Lake Victoria has been checked because wastewater from the abattoir is clean nowadays,” Kyambadde says.
According to Abbey Mugumba, the chairman of Kampala City Abattoir Traders Development Association, they save an estimated Shs 3 million per month, which he said is half the amount the facility used to spend on power bills before the recycle system was installed.
Elated by the success at the City Abattoir, officials from the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) urged the private sector to embrace the technology and build similar integrated wastewater and value addition systems that save energy while promoting a clean environment.
“This is one of the success stories to prove that bioscience innovations can be turned into economic sense and contribute to the development of our country if applied,” said Dr Julius Ecuru, UNCST’s assistant executive secretary.
Ecuru adds that Kyambadde and his team of researchers, who got part of Sida’s $450,000 (Shs 1.3bn) fund to execute the Lufula pilot project, are ready to work with private sector partners to replicate such affordable and friendly recycle systems.
Other Bio-Innovate Africa-supported projects include tissue culture to produce clean planting materials (by Makerere University and private entrepreneur Erostus Nsubuga of AGT), recycling solid coffee husks into fertilizers for growing mushrooms, sorghum and finger millet value addition (by Makerere University, Lisha Products Ltd and Peak Value Ltd) and the cassava and sweet potato multiplication for drought-resistant varieties, jointly conducted by Makerere University and five organisations.
During their roundtable meeting last week, officials assessed all Sida-funded bioscience schemes for commercial viability. They also charted the way forward on policie
s and regulatory incentives that could promote bioscience innovations in the region.