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Resilient Tech: Michael Yon on Gobar Gas

by John Robb

Resilient technologies can be applied across the spectrum, from the black holes of consumption in developed economies to the most isolated village in the global hinterland, to radically improve security and enable vibrant prosperity.

A good example of how resilient tech can be used for the most basic development is Gobar Gas. A simple underground bioreactor that produces methane energy for cooking, lighting and other household uses from vegetable waste and dung. The intrepid and well traveled Michael Yon has a brilliant post on the topic. He delineates the myriad of benefits from the addition of this simple production system to a household:

  • Energy independence. Methane energy production replaces dozens of hours spent daily gathering firewood. The conversions saves 2,500 kg of wood per year (reduces deforestation) and has important social benefits in that it frees women and children to focus on education and household income generation.
  • Food security. The bioreactor yields a high quality fertilizer slurry that radically improves crop yields (enough to produce income, especially if combined with a greenhouse).
  • Economic development. A village equipped with numerous bioreactors can become a hub of economic activity.

Michael goes on to point out that Gobar Gas can be applied to counter-insurgency and stabilization programs (he uses Afghanistan as an example). He's right. As I've pointed out many times before, resilient technologies are central to security and prosperity in the 21st century, not just in subsistence areas abroad but in the developed world as well.

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on John's blog Global Guerillas. See Michael Yon's full story on Gobar Gas, including his excellent photography of projects in Brunei, Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, by clicking here.

Image of gobar gas reactor courtesy of Flickr photographer sverma under the Creative Commons License.

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