This report looks at the Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme (KENDBIP) to understand how payments for ecosystem services (PES) might benefit smallholder agriculture. The research was carried out as part of the Hivos-IIED PES Learning Trajectory Programme. The dairy cow biodigester system promoted by the Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme is a highly effective ‘green’ technology – both in terms of its primary product (biogas) and by-product (bioslurry).
Biodigesters have three climate-friendly impacts: they avoid deforestation, since less fuelwood or charcoal is needed in switching to biogas; they avoid the use of chemical fertilisers, since bioslurry is an effective fertiliser; and bioslurry improves crop productivity. Biogas also has a positive impact on health, especially for women, as a smokeless cooking fuel. Each biodigester qualifies for small amounts of carbon offsets as payments for ecosystem services, since the use of biogas avoids deforestation, protecting the ecosystem services provided by forests (such as reducing atmospheric carbon). These carbon offsets translate into small revenue streams from international sales in carbon markets. However, the farmers who have transferred their carbon rights to the project that handles these sales are not seeing any direct benefits: the process seems very removed from the farm, and high transaction costs mean that revenues per individual biodigester are negligible.