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Building Community Resilience towards Climate change by use of biogas in Indian Himalayas



Fuelwood  extraction is not only causes the degradation of forests but its incomplete burning  has been responsible for glacier melting and  finally sea level rise. Moreover communities   in the  entire Himalayan  region is struggling to a clean and decentralized energy excess which can meet their daily needs, produced locally and cost effectively,  and  maintain their landscapes towards high carbon oriented. In this context,  based on  last two study results, it is  proposed to demonstrate,   and  also to provide the evidences if any for,  the use of biogas energy at landscape level to pave a way forward in Himalayan region for energy security and tackling problem of climate change mitigation and adaptation while focusing on secure livelihoods, maintaining the natural biodiversity and promoting high carbon landscapes. The three year project activities proposed at cost of USD 496650/- include programme awareness, implementation and evaluation phases with main emphasis on easy excess to a clean and local, cost effective energy to  rural households by installing biogas plants in 25 villages in Balkila microwatershed in IHR. The project will yield simultaneously other numerous benefits such as organic waste for  farming (organic fertilizer), reduction   in  black carbon, increase in  agriculture production, improved livelihoods  due to dairy milk production, reduction in pressures on forests including grazing pressure, promotion of agroforestry and carbon sequestration, etc. besides improving  women drudgery and health which is so crucial in the mountain  regions.


Category of the action

Mitigation/Adaptation, Changing public attitudes about climate change

What actions do you propose?

Scientific studies all over the World have revealed that black carbon  is second most manmade agent of climate change and unlike in  Europe where diesel is main culprit, wood burning and forest fire cause  60-80% Black Carbon (soot) emissions in Asia (Bond et al 2013) which results the rapid glacier melt and thus raises questions on future water supply to  downstream users  (Menon et al 2009). The drastic reduction in emissions of regional emissions of short life climate pollutants, especially Black Carbon can be controlled   by using a clean energy  like LPG. However, due to  soaring LPG prices, its continuous supply   and transportation still force the mountain villagers, especially poors in Himalayan region to use fuelwood for cooking and heating which is one of the main causes of forest degradation in  the region like whole of India. However, use of  biogas  is an easy,  local and decentralised  energy excess to rural households that can be effortlessly combined  in a high carbon oriented landscape with a massive program of Forest and  landscape restoration.

The proposed project aims to demonstrate how to manage energy within  Himalayan ecosystem context while focusing on secure livelihoods, maintaining the natural biodiversity and promoting high carbon landscapes through use of biogas using domestic animal dung. Biogas plants based on local and domestic production  of  biogas energy at household level will help in reduction of black carbon  which is one of the major reasons for glacier melt. The project activities will also emphasises on stall feeding  for collection of dung and rearing of more animals  which will boost milk production thus enhancing the livelihood of local households.  Besides, it is to promote agro-forestry for fodder and wood production and discourage grazing in forest and common lands.

Who will take these actions?

Local households  mobilized by DGSM (Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal) and BSR Foundation under   the supervision of Grassroots and UREDA will install the biogas plants  in 25 villages in  the Balkila micro watershed. The Forest Department, Government of Uttarakhand will be actively involved and Van Panchayat Federations, Uttarakhand, grass root organizations (Mahila mangal dals) will also be the beneficiaries.  Besides Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal, other important project partners may include: MNRE through UREDA as a knowledge partners, implementation  and financing (Rs 11,000 per biogas plant).

The project could also seek cooperation with various other organizations such as IUCN, the Regional Model Forest Network Asia, Asia Pacific Forestry Network, Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves. 

Where will these actions be taken?

The Balkila Micro-watershed is located in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) that spreads over more than 0.537 million km², which is 16.2% of the total geographic area of the country, and comprises a diverse range of biotic provinces and biomes. A study from the GBP    Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development at Almora states that nearly 50% of the total flowering plants in India are located in the IHR, of which 30% are endemic. With more than 41.5% of its geographical area under forest cover, the region accounts for one third of the forest cover of India (G-SHE, 2009).


The above watershed is situated  in the upper part of the Ganges river basin in Central Indian Himalayas (Distt Chamoli in Uttarakhand State). The 10 km long Balkila River, a tributary of the Alaknanda River, is influential in the geomorphology of its watershed, a 160 km2 area lush with natural resources (Fig. 1). Natural and plantation forests cover an area of 107.93 km2 which is 67.5% of the total area of the watershed. There are five different types of forests that are home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna. The remaining area of the watershed is covered by pastures (21.8 km2) and water bodies (1.2 km2). Along with this, the watershed shelters a population of 7,623 persons (according to a 2001 census) distributed across 25 villages.

 Likewise in the entire IHR,  the households  in the watershed are struggling to deal with clean energy excess, climate change and degradation of native forests. Solutions lie in implementing integrated natural  resources management especially energy security to enhance community and ecosystem resilience. It is also important that energy resources are managed sustainably in the face of climate change so that the resilience of local populations and ecosystems can be augmented


What are other key benefits?

The other expected results/benefits  of the project include:

·         Organic waste for  farming (organic fertilizer)

·         Forest landscape restoration by organizing eco-development camps

·         Increase in soil moisture retention and  ground water recharge

·         Reduction in  black carbon     will help in increase in  agriculture production

·         Demonstration of improved livelihoods  due to both dairy production

·         Reduction in pressures on forests including grazing pressure

·         Promotion of agroforestry and carbon sequestration

·         Increase in  fodder production and reduction in women drudgery

·         Improvement in women health due to clean energy excess

·         Encouraging women entrepreneurship in fuel efficient energy excess

·         Awareness about  usage  of improved technology for brick kilns to reduce emissions of Black Carbon

Lessons can also be used to influence and support larger government initiatives in the Himalayan region

What are the proposal’s costs?


Activities (Budget)

Awareness and  sensitization (USD 18333.33)

Setting up  biogas plants (USD 366666.67)

Programme implementation  (USD24000.00)  

Maintenance and  monitoring (USD 16666.67)

Evaluation of project (USD 8333.33)

Briefings on Best Practices (USD 5000.00

Communication Products  (USD 4166.67)

Travel (USD 8333.33)

Total (USD 451500.00)

Overheads (10%) (USD 45150.00)

G.Total  (USD 496650.00)


Time line



Awareness and  sensitization (4 months)

Setting up  biogas plants (18 months)

Programme implementation  (18 months)  

Maintenance and  monitoring (24 months)

Evaluation of project (4months)

Briefings on Best Practices (6 months)

Communication Products  (12 months)

Related proposals


Bond, T.C.,S. J. Doherty,D. W. Fahey,P. M. Forster,T. Berntsen,B. J. DeAngelo,M. G. Flanner,S. Ghan,B. Kärcher,D. Koch,S. Kinne,Y. Kondo,P. K. Quinn,M. C. Sarofim,M. G. Schultz,C. Venkataraman,H. Zhang,N. Bellouin,S. K. Guttikunda,P. K. Hopke,M. Z. Jacobson,J. W. Kaiser,Z. limont,U. Lohmann,J. P. Schwarz,D. Shindell,T. Storelvmo,S. G. Warren,C. S. Zender.2013. Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: A scientific assessment. Journal of Geophysical Research, 188 (11):5380-5552

Menon, S., Koch, D., Beig, G., Sahu, S., Fasullo, J., and Orlikowski, D. 2009. Black carbon aerosols and the third polar ice cap, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 26593-26625, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-26593-2009.

MoEF. 2011.Governance for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (G-SHE): Guidelines and Best Practices. Available at