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Waste as fuel for a Smart Village

The innovative KubeKo box is the engine of the Smart Village, giving rural communities access to fertilizer, cooking gas and electricity.

Photo of Louise
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Poverty in rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire is higher than in urban areas. Communities that are depending on income from agriculture, deal with low agricultural yields due to nutrient deficits. In addition, women often cook (indoors) with charcoal or wood, which causes significant health threats. Finally, the lack of access to electricity prevents families and communities to benefit from a range of advantages, including the use of lights at night, mobile phones and irrigation systems. Our project creates a Smart Village, which is based on an innovative, highly efficient anaerobic digester that converts organic waste into liquid fertilizer and into biogas for cooking. In addition, the installation of a biogas generator allows the system to produce electricity as well. Currently a small scale Smart Village is being implemented, where a biogas grid of 4 stoves is connected and a generator producing 10 kWh per day. With the BridgeBuilder Challenge, we would like to implement the first full scale Smart Village, where 30 households are connected to a mini grid and therefore receive clean cooking gas and electricity.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are households in rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire, that are dependent on income from agriculture or animal farming. Specifically women will benefit from this project since they face the biggest health threats using unsafe cooking methods and this project offers them a clean cooking alternative.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The KubeKo digester, used as the 'engine' in the Smart Village, has an innovative and unique multistage design. This design makes the digestion process more efficient and therefore more fertilizer and gas is produced in a shorter amount of time. Recently, the KubeKo has been nominated as one of the twelve most innovative solutions of Viva Technology in Paris, France ( With this design, the Smart Village can eventually be commercially viable, which makes the system independent of aid, charity, governmental support or NGO's.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

LONO is a social enterprise that valorizes organic waste into products of value for communities or customers. We adapt developments in biotechnology to the local context of rural Côte d'Ivoire in order for communities to benefit from global innovation. For this reason, our slogan is 'biotechnology for rural development.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

LONO is a social enterprise with the mission to reduce poverty by valorizing waste. We build the organization based on the believe that some of the mayor problems in Côte d’Ivoire and the West-African region - namely sanitation, relatively low agricultural yields, no access to electricity in rural areas, unclean cooking - can be solved through valorizing a product that is currently left for waste; biomass.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The planet has been impacted by agricultural practices in Côte d'Ivoire. By removing nutrients through harvest and insufficient replacement by fertilizer or compost application, the soil impoverishes. Besides, the lack of sanitation does not only harm the planet but also wastes an opportunity for a positive contribution to the soil. Finally, cooking practices of women in those areas, not only contribute to air pollution but also to deforestation by using wood as their main resource. Prosperity has been impacted by the lack of access to electricity, the high fertilizer prices and the lack of clean cooking options which forces mainly women to cook in unhealthy manners. Our project aims to contribute on all these aspects by proving a way to convert waste into fertilizer, biogas for cooking, and biogas for electricity production.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The last 10 months, LONO has developed a digester that is more efficient and compact than other digesters due to its multistage design. We call this digester the KubeKo. The KubeKo has been tested extensively within communities, as well as the fertilizer and biogas produced by it. Currently a small scale Smart Village is being implemented, where a biogas grid of 4 stoves is connected and a generator producing 10 kWh per day. We work closely with the community of the town Affery, the regional council and an NGO that was already active in this region. In addition, the system includes an incentive for people to use clean cooking gas instead of other cheap but unhealthy alternatives by giving giving a significant discount on the biogas for cooking to households and individuals that provide us with their organic waste. For the large scale Smart Village we aim to work in the same manner; engaging communities, local government and other relevant parties to ensure the best results.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The community has sufficient biomass available and is open to valorize this waste in an innovative way. Some small scale waste projects have already been done by the community itself, which shows the willingness and eager of the community to work on this subject. This community has also requested us to work on the first small scale Smart Village, which allows us to further optimize the system and to cooperate with the community. The full scale Smart Village will therefore be a logical next step.

Geographic Focus

Rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire, starting in Affery.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

A Smart Village can be implemented within 12 months. The Smart Village can be replicated in other rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire as well.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Oluwamayowa

Great idea. Biogas is a much needed intervention for those in the developing world. My question is similar to the one asked by the first commenter below. What is the material used for the container and also, can this be easily transported especially for people in rural areas?


Photo of Louise

Hi Oluwamayowa, thanks for your feedback! I hope my answer to Vicky answers your questions partly as well but concerning your point on the transport; this is a very important aspect as well. Luckily, concrete is widely available and can be found close to most villages and rural communities in Côte d'Ivoire. The containers shown in the video are truck containers, and therefore require a truck to bring them to the right place. So you are right that for this option, roads need to be good enough for trucks to reach a certain place. The infrastructure in Côte d'Ivoire is rather good (not everywhere of course, but in many regions), but this will become an even more important point for us when expanding to other places!

Photo of Oluwamayowa

Alright Loiuse. I have read your reply to Vicky. I think you can consider using aluminum which is a little bit lighter in weight to steel and will be easy to carry. For commercial purpose, you need to consider the financial power of an African rural dweller.

I dropped a comment on your youtube page and wouldn't mind a response and your email address too. Cheers.

Photo of Louise

Thanks, Oluwamayowa. The problem we still face with aluminium is the local availability, the price and the sustainable sourcing. It would be interesting to share more ideas and info! Our email address is, it will be transferred to me and we can exchange directly!

Photo of Vicky S.

Congratulations on your idea! Your initiative touches on something that people from more developed countries often fail to recognize: access to a safe cooking methods isn’t available to everyone. Your idea will help both the environment, and the people who often go unnoticed in these situations: women, who are the primary caretakers of the home.

I do have one question: in the long run, how safe would the containers themselves be for the environment? Are they made out of biodegradable material or something else?

I love your mission statement by the way: to reduce poverty by valorizing water. Kudos to whoever came up with that one!

Photo of Louise

Hi Vicky, thanks for your positive comment and for your question! We currently work with two types of material; concrete and steel. We work with locally available materials and labour and concrete has our preference when is comes to material use, for the exact reasons you mention (sustainability). However, sometimes a project requires to have a mobile digester (that can be moved after a while), which is why we have a steel option as well.

For this mobile version, the alternatives are unfortunately limited because the digester needs to be air tight and because we prefer to work with locally available materials. However, for future this is definitely an interesting aspect to do further research on. Luckily, the digester containers have a lifespan of at least 20 years, so little replacement is needed. I hope this answers your question!