Microfinace In Action: Community Trust Funds and Bio-gas

Earlier this week, we were invited to Dongshan, a farming village on the far side of Caohai Lake, for a meeting of one of the area’s several Community Trust Funds. Started in 1993, the Caohai CTF groups have been offering microcredit loans to members of their communities to start enterprises and assist with cost-of-living expenses.

Village residents gather in the new community meeting room paid for with CTF revenue.

CTF ledger book.

Kids peer through the window to watch the proceedings.

Mr. Kong, one of the farmer's association leaders, ties a newly-donated tie for one of the village elders.

Meeting essentials: ledger books, ink pad, cups of tea and cigarettes

A thumbprint replaces a signature as proof of payment

Meanwhile, Mark distracts village kids outside with games.

With village elders, CTF leaders and the head of the farmer's association.

The farmer’s association has also helped the communities around the lake build new drinking wells and bio-gas generators.

A new well.

The bio-gas project is particularly exciting. By collecting pig and human waste, methane is stored and piped into houses to provide gas for cooking and lighting. There are multiple benefits.  Bio-gas generators reduce the amount of raw sewage entering into Cao Hai lake.  And by minimizing the need for coal, bio-gas saves families up to 2,000 RMB/$300 per year, reduces in-home coal emissions (a public health issue), and limits methane dispersal into the atmosphere (a significant contributor to global warming).

The bio-gas set up: gas is piped in from the pig sty and outhouse, run through the meter and sent to either the cook stove or to overhead lighting.

Bio-gas light fixture and CFL backup light.

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