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Bio-digester system helping Ngamba island in waste management

When Ngamba island’s Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) was established in 1998, the aim was to ensure that orphaned chimpanzee populations are secure in their natural habitats.

The sanctuary, whose rainforest sits on over 100 acres, supports a rich diversity of natural wildlife and provides a variety of natural foods for the chimpanzees, some of which were brought from as far as Egypt and DR Congo.

But it takes more than chimpanzees to make Ngamba as amazing an island – and that’s where humans come in. Some are volunteers, others employees, while others are usual visitors that lounge at the island during their honeymoons or holidays.

On a recent visit to the island, Lilly Ajarova, the director of the trust, told The Observer that that while making sure that they conserve the chimps, they thought about the environment too.

Ngamba, being in the middle of Lake Victoria, waste management was going to be a problem, especially when the traffic of humans accessing the island increased.

It was going to be hard for the management to construct latrines without possibilities of contaminating the lake.

So, in 2015, the site installed a bio-digester sewage system and has never regretted the move. The system, unlike the traditional method of constructing a septic tank and soak pit, occupies a smaller space and still conserves the environment.

Julius Kirumira, the director of Home Contractors, the company that set up the bio-digester systems on the island, says that bio-digesters are the future in waste management.

“The processing of waste with this type of septic tank involves investing natural bacteria that become active to work the waste, as opposed to our traditional system where they are redundant,” he says.

Kirumira notes that the main aim of using a bio-digester is to see that sewage produces an effluent that will not adversely impact that environment or human health.

Indeed, many of the island visitors The Observer talked to noted that it doesn’t smell and it is much better to maintain sanitary.

Kirumira says in urban centers where waste management has become a problem because of high water tables that have at times seen toilets flood during heavy rains, bio-digesters can be ideal.

According to Kirumira, bio-digesters convert waste into methane and carbon dioxide, thus deterring many of the water-borne diseases. The end result, Kirumira adds, is pathogen-free water that is safe for home use.

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