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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

February 2020 – This working paper explores the benefits of enabling a community in Kenya to switch from cooking with traditional fuels to using biogas which is created through the natural process of anaerobic digestion of organic waste.

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Indoor air pollution from burning wood, charcoal and animal dung for household cooking and heating causes an estimated 2.2–4.2 million premature deaths annually. CISL and the project team worked closely with the Dunga Beach community in western Kenya to select 50 households to receive a biodigester to use in place of traditional fuels. In addition, two large biodigesters and a purpose-built kitchenette were installed for a local enterprise to sell biogas directly to local restaurants and fish fryers.

The research identified that households embraced biogas cooking with two thirds of participants noting that their health had improved. In addition, households saved around US$19 per month which would otherwise have been spent on traditional fuels. The research recommends that a credit model is assessed to help scale up future household biogas deployment.


This report is part of CISL’s programme which explores how companies can become better agents of inclusive development in the global south. This report builds on the project’s baseline study report published in 2019. This research was funded by AstraZeneca UK Ltd.


Author and Acknowledgements

This report was prepared by a team comprising Dr Natasha Grist, Senior Advisor, CISL, and Affiliated Lecturer, Centre of Development Studies, Cambridge; Dr Alexandra Winkels, Affiliated Lecturer, Centre of Development Studies, Cambridge; Dr Jake Reynolds, Executive Director, Sustainable Economy, CISL; and John Pharoah, Project Manager, CISL.

The project is funded by AstraZeneca UK Ltd (AZ) and led and implemented by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) in collaboration with Biogas International Limited (BIL) and Adoyo Community Consultancy in Kenya, and the Centre of Development Studies (CDS) in Cambridge.

We express deep thanks to the household participants from Dunga Beach, the Dunga Beach Management Unit and the Chiela Women’s Group for their engagement, help and full support throughout the project.  

Citing this report

Please refer to this report as: Grist, N., Winkels, A., Reynolds, J., & Pharoah, J. (2020). Clean fuel switch: Exploring the multiple benefits of biogas: Final Report. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Learn more about CISL's inclusive development work.

Published: February 2020


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.