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09.11.2016 | Blog

Eddy, Guardian of the Biodigester

A success story from Madagascar: Eddy lives in Toliara, Madagascar – also known as the city of the sun. For a long time, his life didn’t seem as prospective as his hometown’s name. He had no job and thus no perspective for his future. Eddy’s life took a great turn with the help of Welthungerhilfe’s Passat project. This is his success story; how he became guardian of the biodigester.

Eddy with his harvest
Happy about his new job: Eddy is Guardian of the biodigester at SCAMA market, Toliara. © Welthungerhilfe
Guillaume de Bejarry Country Office Madagascar

Welcome to Madagascar

Life is not always easy in Toliara. Madagascar’s fifth biggest city is located near the Tropic of Capricorn. 250,000 people live here. The population suffers from malnutrition and lives in squalor and neglected hygiene. The lack of sanitation infrastructure fosters diseases of all kind. Through its Passat project, Welthungerhilfe seeks to achieve a clean and safe city: first by supporting the municipality in collecting waste, then by sorting and recycling it into fertilizer, bricks and biogas.

Eddy is 25 and single. Less than a year ago, he was a young man without a future, jobless, wandering in the downtown neighbourhood of the SCAMA, a great market in Toliara. Aimless, he provided his services to the vendors of the market in exchange of some money to get through his daily life. One day in October 2015, strangers from a strangely named organization came to him. He forgot about its name as soon as he heard it, not knowing that the NGO was going to change his life entirely.

Cleanse the Slum, create a biodigester

Those strangers wanted to provide him with the necessary means to clean a site at the heart of the market. A really dirty place, used as a playground by local kids and for open defecation by the neighbours. Ragmen even found their happiness in this slum despite the high risks of contamination. Once the place would be cleaned, the NGO workers wanted him to be its guardian, if he accepted. Eddy never imagined that this place would finally transform itself into an organic waste treatment plant that was going to provide the vendors of SCAMA market with gas. He accepted right away.

In truth, a biodigester was to be set within the site. The organic waste treatment plant is an equivalent of a huge stomach that transforms organic waste into gases and provides fertilizer to nursery plants. The aim of its use is to achieve food security and to substitute its gas for the highly polluting charcoal. The project also aimed to sensitize the neighbouring population to this new and interesting thing. Eddy followed the progress of the works and finally understood the importance of the project and its impact on his life after some time. He would be able to save up some money if he didn’t have to buy charcoal anymore.

A sustainable project with impact

One of our hero’s duties was to keep the place clean as emissaries of the city would come regularly to visit this wonder. Children and students were all curious to know how waste can be transformed into energy. Eddy became very proud of his new situation: finding a dignified employment, providing a clean living place to the population, using a clean, modern and innovative technology. All in all, a real improvement from his former life. Also his fellows looked at him differently now, as he was no longer a jobless young man without a future. He has become guardian of a trendy place that is of great use to the city of Toliara since its renovation.

Eddy warmly thanked us after our visit and assured us that he still will be at the plant next time when we return. Eddy sincerely hopes that the site will last in time and will be still operational at the end of Passat, when the strangers from Welthungerhilfe will leave him. With his new occupation he hopes to be able to offer his family a comfortable life, so that they will be proud of him.

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