Low-cost household digesters are a promising appropriate technology which can help reducing the pressure on the environment due to deforestation and greenhouse gases emissions. The biogas and biofertilizer produced can alleviate poverty, by improving health conditions, increasing crops productivity and saving working time and burden for women and children. The aim of this study is to evaluate low-cost digesters technical, environmental and socio-economic impacts in rural communities of the Peruvian Andes, where a pilot project was developed during the last 3 years. Although the benefits are restricted by the performance of anaerobic digestion at high altitude, the results show that the digesters improve household living conditions and economy, while reducing environmental impacts. Biogas production covers around 60% of fuel needs for cooking, leading to 50–60% decrease in firewood consumption (i.e. deforestation) and greenhouse gases emissions; the annual income is increased by 3–5.5% due to fertilizer savings and potato sales. These values could be improved by enhancing digesters performance and the sustainability of the technology.

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