Exchange: Capacity-Building, Democratisation of Technology and Local Advocacy through the Ecuadorian Biodigester Network (RedBioEc)

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This SEPS exchange aimed to develop a strong base of biodigester practitioners in Ecuador and to form linkages between actors with interest in the technology at local and national levels.

Exchange Need & Objective
Previous projects in the region had demonstrated a significant skills gap on biogas technology. This project aimed to fill that gap by working in three villages in Ecuador to develop a strong base of biodigester practitioners in Ecuador and forming relationships at local and national levels.
Participants & Target Groups
The activities actively engaged researchers, government, civil society and farmers’ organizations, and in particular community groups and other actors able to replicate biodigester technology in Ecuador. A national-level event provided a platform to:
  • Share local experiences.
  • Raise awareness among public and international agencies.
  • Promote existing replication capacity created through the exchange.
  • Strengthen the national-level network.
Activities & Project Phases
The activities included: 1. Three capacity-building workshops in three different regions (Feb/Mar 2018) 2. Follow-up workshops to reinforce the first series, responding to concerns and weaknesses identified by participants. 3. Field Days (May 2018) to raise awareness of biodigester technology among local/regional actors, particularly smallholders, local government staff and civil society organizations. 4. National Event (September 2018): To strengthen national-level collaboration between actors interested and active biodigestion in Ecuador, including key national and local government representatives. 5. Financial and technical support for eight participants to apply their newly acquired capacities, resulting in the installation of seven pilot biodigesters in their communities.
Results & Impacts
  • Significant progress in disseminating practical knowledge on biodigester technology and creating active and competent technicians capable of advancing the technology in their localities.
  • Creation of locally and regionally appropriate training materials (written and visual).
  • Participant numbers exceeded initial targets and included representatives from most Ecuadorian provinces (as well as bordering areas of Peru and Colombia).
  • Most participants returned for follow-up training and discussions, which strengthened knowledge acquisition and the network’s sense of community.
  • Support for pilot installations helped eight participants enhance their abilities. Informal surveys identified three additional participants who installed digesters on their farms using their own resources.
Lessons learned
Positive: The consecutive workshop format combining theoretical courses, hand-on training and field visits proved effective in building local technical capacity, raising awareness and promoting knowledge exchange between diverse actors. Negative: Reaching a more cohesive and active network of practitioners proved difficult.
Further efforts should focus on:
  • Creating alliances with local and national actors to consolidate the workshops series format as a tool for building local capacity.
  • Exploring ways of promoting mutual collaboration between individuals from diverse sectors, such as smallholders, academics and local authority staff.

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