‘Giving life to dead land’ – Solar pumps irrigate thirsty farms

Kenyan farmers have built sand dams to hold less river water – but solar water pumps are making access easier

* Sand dams can be difficult, accessible to collect water

* 98% of Kenyan farmers rely on rainfall for irrigation development

* Solar pumps stop trying to move water, do not cause pollution

By Kagando Njagi

Mivitini, Kenya, October 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rafael Mayu, a dairy farmer from southeastern Kenya, has no plans to retire at the age of 80. But before long, he realized that he was too old to work.

He said the six dairy cows in Mayou require regular water supply and that daily delivery to their farm in the village of Mwitini can be tedious, time consuming and dangerous.

The nearby river flows only during the two rainy seasons of the year, so the community has built sand dams – crossing sandy rivers, which in turn hold and hold water – to store the river water when they need it.

The dams are a popular ploy in Kenya’s arid regions, but they are one of the most dangerous.

It is dangerous to carry heavy and unstable loads like water from time to time on river courses.

But these days, the Maoists and other farmers in Mittini should not have to worry about fetching water after the installation of a new solar system that will bring water from the dams to a safe meeting place for the community to use.

As countries around the world suffer from chronic drought and water shortages, farmers and water experts say it is more important than ever to find cheaper, more comfortable and unsafe ways to get water throughout the year.

In February, the World Bank and the Macau County government worked with farmers to install a 32-cell solar unit in the village of Maui, one of more than a dozen solar projects. The World Bank has helped set up Kenya.

A World Bank spokesman referred questions to the Macau government for an interview, but did not respond to various comments.

Under the $ 150 million project, solar pumps will be provided free of charge, with maintenance costs paying less for the cost of the water.

The Mayou solar pump in the village can draw enough water in one day to fill a 100,000-liter storage tank – more than 50 hectares (20 hectares).

He said the amount does not meet the daily needs of all the villagers, but it is more than enough for the farmers to water their cattle.

And when the area is hit by a long, heavy rain, the tanks provide enough water for the basic needs of the community to watch the next heavy rains.

“I want to use this water to sow fodder on my farm,” he said. When the rains are not enough, it saves me from having to feed the animals. ”

‘Giving Life to the Dead Land’

According to the United Nations, about one-third of the world’s population lives in this area Countries with water shortages.

In Kenya – one of these countries – 98% of agriculture is rain-fed and “very vulnerable” to climate change, according to the country. Climate Modern Agricultural Strategy.

To meet their water needs, more than 20 farmers in Kalawa village, Makueni district, have purchased their own solar power system to irrigate their fields.

He said the technology has saved their lives in the region’s repeated droughts since the late 1990s.

I feel like I am giving life to a dead land. He said that the use of solar energy has really helped to turn rainwater into another level.

Before investing in the new irrigation system, the dead already relied on rain to irrigate their crops, which resulted in poor production or sometimes total crop failure.

Other local farmers say they have struggled with hand-pump or gasoline pollution systems before switching to solar.

When many young Kenyans choose to work in the city Instead of working in the field, solar pumps allow older farmers to live longer, says Dominic Omodi, an agricultural officer in Kalawa.

In communities where people use hip or hand pumps, it takes two or more people – and a lot of muscle strength – to draw water from a river or well – Omondi. A solar pump requires only one person to operate it.

“(People) find it difficult to use hand pumps when they get older. But someone who uses solar pumps sits down and the technology does most of the work,” he said.

Solar capacity

great According to the Stockholm International Environment Institute (SEI), less than 1% of Kenya’s electricity comes from renewable energy, especially hydroelectric and geothermal energy.

Speaking at the January Climate Summit, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the country will generate all electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Manufacturers Association, Phyllis Wagaga, said the country needs to encourage the adoption of renewable energy to achieve that goal.

He said that would include persuading the banks to support a renewable energy project.

“The biggest hurdle is financing,” Wakega said in an email.

“We need to inform the local banking sector to appreciate the importance of supporting solar projects.”

($ 1 = 110.7000 Kenyan shillings)

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(Edited by Kagondu Njagi, edited by Jumana Faruki and Lori Gorking.

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