Beyond climatic intervention: The social dimension of a biogas project in Sogwala village, Zimbabwe
There is now considerable interest to understand how local communities experiencing climatic risks can benefit from climate change responses. As this agenda unfolds, there is need to understand the impact of climate-related interventions from the perspective of local populations targeted by such projects. Existing assessment approaches tend to concentrate on the environmental and economic impacts of projects that minimise greenhouse gas emissions. This study assesses the social aspect of a domestic biogas project that was intended to address the twin challenges of poverty and climate change in Sogwala village, Zimbabwe. A three-tier methodological execution process was adopted, involving field reconnaissance, household survey and key informant interviews. The focus was on measuring the social dimension of the changes brought about by the project, from the experiences of participating households. With a consciousness of assessment challenges associated with community projects, social capital parameters were used to assess the project’s contribution to the social well-being of the villagers. Overall, results show that the biogas project has the potential to facilitate social development through improved trust and social networks. Despite the contested climatic benefits associated with small-scale household biogas digesters, projects of this nature can enhance community relationships and networks, upon which other development interventions can be operationalised.
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