Economic potential and willingness to pay for a flexible balloon digester among smallholder farmers: A case study of Tiribogo in Mpigi District, Uganda
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The use of advanced forms of energy, such as electricity, biogas has improved quality of life for people around the world. Biogas produced from biogas digesters has been promoted in Uganda through use of fixed dome and floating drum digesters. These have proved to be expensive, thus a cheaper design was promoted to increase uptake of biogas technology. However, there has not been much research on how the installation and maintenance costs compare with the monetary savings made by households changing from fuelwood to biogas in Uganda. The study aimed at determining the economic potential of flexible balloon digesters, with a focus on exploring the cost-benefit analysis as well as willingness to pay for the flexible balloon design in Uganda. To achieve this, household surveys were conducted in July 2012 and February 2013. The 2012 survey established the baseline to which comparisons were made using the follow up survey. A random sample of 150 households was used in the baseline survey. The follow up survey conducted in 2013 involved a sample of 9 households who were purposively selected and a sample of 141 households in close proximity to the nine households were randomly selected. A cost–benefit analysis was done for the nine digester installed households to determine the viability of this design. Furthermore, a logistic regression model was used to determine the factors that influence willingness to pay for the flexible balloon digester. The results show that a flexible balloon digester is not financially viable in the short run. The majority of the surveyed households have shown their willing to pay for the digester but the amount was not sufficient to cover the initial costs of the digester. The results further show that the probability of households‟ willingness to pay for a flexible balloon digester increases with an increase in the number of livestock, household size, and costs of fuel wood. Households who frequently purchase kerosene, male headed households and those who perceive biogas digesters improve sanitation are more likely to pay. However, such probability decreases with an increasing costs of maintaining and increasing age of the household head. Overall, the households were willing to pay for the flexible balloon digester and a flexible balloon digester is not financially viable. Therefore there is need to improve the technology to lower the initial cost of investment. Young generations should be given priority in diffusion process of the technology.