Masters’ Students Build a Functioning Biodigester for their East African Nonprofit

The heart of the Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program at Multnomah is to identify needs in the world and find holistic, sustainable solutions. Our program builds on a foundation of biblical justice and international development with an emphasis on compassion initiatives, poverty alleviation, and combating injustices in society. Today, the MAGDJ program is proud to highlight the accomplishments of some of its students who have embarked on a unique and exciting adventure to embody that vision. 

Recent graduate, Godfrey “Jeje” Nzirimu has founded a nonprofit organization called East Africa Energy Solutions (EAES). The mission of the organization is to “provide access to alternative sources of energy that are environmentally friendly and affordable by building biodigesters across East Africa to save forests from the growing rates of deforestation and promote economic development.” 

Having grown up in Uganda, Jeje has firsthand knowledge of the living conditions in East Africa. In Uganda and other areas in East Africa, firewood is used as the main source of energy to cook food. As a result, Uganda has lost approximately 63% of its forest cover in 25 years, which has resulted in high energy prices and prolonged droughts. Jeje says that he “felt a strong sense of responsibility to change the alarming rates of deforestation and respiratory illness due to pollution.”

In his search for sustainable solutions, Jeje became interested in the use of biodigesters for fuel. A biodigester is a device or structure in which organic waste matter is digested by bacteria and produces burnable biogas and a nutrient-rich slurry. Jeje looked into purchasing and distributing biodigesters, but he identified two major problems: cost and usability. Finding that the available biodigesters in East Africa were too expensive for the average person to afford and were highly technical to use, Jeje decided to build his own.

Jeje partnered up with Josh Burke, a current MAGDJ student, to designed and built an affordable, user-friendly biodigester. After months of development, on June 27, 2020, Jeje and Josh successfully cooked a meal of rice and beans on the biodigester, which they built in the community garden on Multnomah University’s campus. Their success has become the prototype for future, affordance, and easy-to-use biodigesters, which they intend to distribute across East Africa. Jeje and Josh, acting as the Executive Director of EAES, say that any profit that they earn from selling these biodigesters will be funneled back into community development projects.

Congratulations to Jeje and Josh on their success! The Multnomah community looks forward to more great things to come from East Africa Energy Solutions. If you would like to learn more about EAES, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

If you would like to learn more about sustainable solutions, combating injustice, and innovative ways to participate in global development, then click here to learn more about the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program at Multnomah University. 

July 17, 2020 | News