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Appropriate Technology: Irrigation


Subsistence farming has recently developed into a small-scale commercial venture in parts of eastern Africa. This accomplishment has been made possible in part by irrigation, which helps farmers to grow more, sell more and earn more. Three irrigation technologies being used were developed and are manufactured locally by an international NGO called Kickstart.

Regina Kamau is Kickstart’s monitoring officer in Kenya; she spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe about why these technologies were created.

“Kickstart recognizes that most of our people depend on agriculture, but the main obstacle is water. So they designed the moneymaker pumps….Each of these pumps can tap water from a depth of 20 feet and push it up to a depth of 23 feet,” she noted. The pumps are capable of watering between three quarters to two acres of land.

After the sale of more than 60 thousand pumps, Kamau says the lives of farmers have changed greatly.

“It is impacting on the rural farmers by generating annually 46 million dollars in profit…. They are also employing people….When somebody goes to the village with the pump, he starts an enterprise. It increases their income ten times. We’ve noticed that most people are now moving from the liability side of the country’s book of accounts to the asset side….You find people moving their children from public schools to private schools; they can now access better healthcare facilities; they have improved their housing; they eat better food; and we are now having happier families,” she said.

Despite the success of the irrigation pumps, Kamau says her organization is faced with outreach and marketing challenges.

“If we could spread the message right into the rural areas, it would be a whole revolution having people from the base of the pyramid beginning to earn their own money, because they have the land, the water and the energy. But some don’t even know there’s such a pump to do exactly that, I mean help them make more money, and happier families,” she said.

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