The BIRU program uses a private sector approach, creating a biogas construction sector, involving locally trained contractors and masons, supported by regional or national vocational training institutions. Biogas digesters do not come cheap, therefore, to reduce the cost barrier, banks and/or micro-finance institutions will provide loans and a two-year constructional error warranty to end users as well as an investment incentive to be offered by the program.

At first years of the implementation, this programme was managed and implemented by Hivos (Humanist Institute for International Cooperation) with Technical Assistance from SNV–Netherlands Development Organisation. In 2012, Hivos engaged Yayasan Rumah Energi as the implementer and build cooperations with national as well as local stakeholder organisations, public as well private, interested in taking on essential functions.

Building a Self-Reliant and Sustainable Biogas Sector

The BIRU Programme aims at the development of the biogas sector by creating biogas demand and supply. The demand side is developed by enhancing awareness among potential biogas users, undertaking awareness raising and marketing activities, providing an investment incentive and by facilitating access to credit. The supply side is developed by selecting biogas sector partners, which are groomed to become self-reliant biogas actors. This is done by providing intensive mason training and other assistance in setting up these organizations’ biogas activities. Partners are supported with technical innovation and the development of manufacture of biogas appliances, such as stoves and lamps.

For sure, the biogas digesters are not given to farmers for free. They have to pay around 60 to 80% of the digester’s cost themselves, which is a considerable amount for many small farmers.

Standardizing Quality

Routine quality control ensures that construction partner organizations are repeatedly reminded of their responsibilities with regard to the quality of the biogas plants and the guarantee of sustained use of the biogas plants. The BIRU approach is to reach 100% well-working biogas plants.

Partners have supervisors who have the task to systematically check the work of the masons, and the BIRU team has quality inspectors to make sure that partners adhere to the quality standards. In 2012, the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) has already approved the BIRU biogas digester design as national biogas standard with number SNI 7826.

An Independent Technical Assessment in December 2011 showed that the BIRU digesters built in Indonesia are of high quality.  In a short time, a number of partners have been able to develop the local manufacture of key biogas appliances. Now, almost all appliances are locally made and have a good quality. Research and development of biogas appliances will continue to reach even higher quality standards.

Gender Mainstreaming

The key implementer, Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE), promotes emancipation and empowerment of women in order to achieve gender equality at all levels of society, by ensuring access and control over material resources and benefits leading to improvement of their material position (direct poverty alleviation) as well as control over non-material resources and benefits like participation in the construction, bio-slurry management and user operation and maintenance training, leading to improvement of their capacities, voice and self-esteem.

YRE ensures involvement of women in the decision making process by having biogas household agreements signed by both spouses, providing equal access for men and women to participate in the certified construction, bio-slurry application, and user operation and maintenance training (strives to have at least 10% of female masons), having access to micro-financing, and opportunities to generate additional income utilizing biogas/bio-slurry.

Micro Finance

YRE and Hivos joins forces with the private sector (the dairy sector, such as Nestle and dairy cooperatives) and the banking sector (BNI and Rabobank Foundation) and finance organisation (Kiva) to provide and improve access to credit to the farmers in need. The loan is channeled mainly through cooperatives and micro-financing institutions.