Today in sub-Saharan African, small-scale farmers who need irrigation source their water through labour intensive methods such as buckets or manual pumps, or with pumps driven by expensive fossil fuels.
Based on the needs of smallholder farmers, iDE, a non-profit organisation helping poor rural households, and PRACTICA foundation have designed a prototype low-cost solar-steam pump suitable for micro-irrigation. In field testing, the pump has shown consistent output exceeding the design goal of lifting 2,000 liters/day from a depth of 15 meters. It is now being refined to improve its reliability, affordability, versatility, simplicity and ease of manufacture.
To facilitate its widespread adoption, it is necessary to overcome farmer skepticism about RE based solutions, demonstrate the solar-steam irrigation pump in real conditions, and develop an efficient and sustainable supply chain for the technology. This effort will not only provide rural markets with access to a RE powered pump, but is envisioned to be the first phase of a larger initiative to create a market for low-cost RE and EE technologies in Ethiopia, and eventually throughout Africa.