MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to help the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) scale up the use of biomass waste in the agriculture sector to meet its growing need for clean energy and food security for poor rural households.
The ADB Board of Directors has approved a regional technical assistance project that will be funded by a $4 million grant from the Nordic Development Fund along with counterpart financing of $600,000 from the governments of Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam. ADB will administer the grant and carry out the project in the three countries. Biomass waste―such as rice husks and animal manure―is abundant in GMS countries but is not efficiently used as a source of clean energy or as fertilizer. At the same time, the growing practice of large-scale crop production for biofuel poses a threat to food security by reducing food production and forest land.
"Promoting more efficient use of biomass can simultaneously address the goals of fighting climate change and improving the well-being of the rural poor, which are often seen as competing priorities," said Sununtar Setboonsarng, Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist, in ADB's Southeast Asia Department.
The project will fund pilot investment projects to scale up biomass technologies such as household biogas systems, biochar kilns, and improved cooking stoves. The project will also conduct studies, build human and institutional capacity on biomass investment, and promote regional exchange among the GMS countries.
"This project will also help strengthen regional cooperation as it will harmonize bioenergy and biomass standards and regulations in the GMS to bring them into line with global standards," said Ms. Setboonsarng.
The project is due to begin in July 2011 and will be completed by December 2014. The Nordic Development Fund is the joint multilateral development institution of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, providing grant finance for climate change interventions in developing countries. The project is part of ADB's Energy for All Initiative, which increases access to clean, modern energy for inclusive growth and sustainable human development.