Impact of Biogas Digesters on Health and Quality of Life Measures of Kenyan Farmwomen
Women living in rural Kenya rely on wood for cooking and are exposed to elevated amounts of wood smoke. The objective of this thesis was to assess the health and quality of life benefits of installing biogas digesters on rural Kenyan dairy farms. Thirty-one farms with biogas digesters and 31 farms without digesters (referent group) were assessed for wood utilization practices, basic respiratory and self-reported health, and exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Women with biogas digesters spent less time and money acquiring wood, and less time exposed to wood smoke (p<0.01). Multivariable linear regression showed associations between daily wood consumption and having a biogas digester, family size, and number of cows. Individual VOCs were lower in cookhouses on biogas farms (p<0.001) and women with biogas digesters reported fewer respiratory symptoms. Biogas digesters are one technology that can reduce reliance on wood fuel and reduce exposures to harmful wood smoke.