Besides monitoring the impact of our work while it is going on, we also do a thorough evaluation at the end of every phase to see what went right, what could be improved, and how to move forward.
Recently, we evaluated our biogas work from February 2014 to February 2018 in one community of Ba Vi District.
The evaluation showed that in the first two years everything was going very well. The number of pigs was increasing rapidly, many households wanted to borrow money to build biogas digesters in order to reduce the pollution caused by animal waste. We were able to provide these loans, as well as training in how to properly size, build and use biogas. Loans were given for 151 biogas digesters to be built and another 90 families mobilized their own resources to build biogas, having been convinced of the value of biogas through our awareness raising campaigns.
However, in the last two years we faced many difficulties. The first challenge was a change of the key personnel on the local Board of Management.
Group discussions with leaders and beneficiaries during the project evaluation in March 2018.
Following the personnel changes, came the longest-ever pork price crisis which has stretched from mid-2016 up to now. While the break-even price of pork is around 35,000 VND (about US$1.5) per kilogram, in the last two years the price dropped to 20,000 – 30,000 VND per kilogram, pushing most of the pig raising households out of business. This has left many families in financial crisis and has forced them to reevaluate their plans and has halted the demand for biogas. Some families have not yet found a way to repay their loans.
The evaluation is a time for us to sit together with the local leadership to determine if there are ways we can continue to work together to move past this crisis and help the local people to recover.
Mr. Hoang Cong Duc took out a loan to build a 27m3 digester in January 2016. He used to raise 5 sows and more than 50 pigs, but all the pens have been empty since last year.
Mr. Dang Van Minh borrowed to build a 40m3 digester. He used to raise 7 sows and about 50 pigs before the pork price crisis. Now he has diversified into chicken raising.