Burkinabe Inventor Turns Harmful Plants Into Clean Energy

Burkinabe Inventor Turns Harmful Plants Into Clean Energy

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UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM

On the outskirts of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Mariama Mamane sat in the dust tinkering with a blue generator. The 29-year-old environmental engineer attached a large blue square bag containing biogas to a generator with a long tube.

She was trying to kick-start the machine branded “Jacigreen” — the name of her company founded in 2016. “It will work!” she urged.

Jacigreen tackles the problem of invasive water hyacinth plants that choke the city’s water supply. Her invention cuts up water hyacinth, fermenting it into a fertilizer and compost for farmers called Jacigrow.

The byproduct of the fertilizer is a gas, which Mamane’s machine captures in blue plastic square bags and converts into electricity for families who don’t have a regular power supply.

Mamane’s fertilizer and biogas prototype is now complete. She is working with families and farmers surrounding the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering, where her biogas prototype is located, to test the fertilizer and biogas.

“Our aim is to provide solutions for families who do not have access to electricity and are using wood,” she said. “Biogas can reduce deforestation and the encroachment of the desert into communities.

“We also aim to reach the maximum number of farmers to reduce chemical fertilizer use, building a resilient ecosystem and healthier products for consumers,” she said.

By 2021, her vision is to reach 500 households with biogas and more than a thousand farmers with fertilizer. 

“It is important to persevere when something seems impossible,” she said. “Pushing through these times helps you grow and gives you energy in your professional life. I encourage other girls and young women to push beyond their dreams, and they will achieve.”