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Affordable technologies, innovation key in combating food insecurity in Africa

Filed under: International News,Latest News |
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Zim Pumps 1By Lovemore Lubinda, Harare, Zimbabwe

The Save River is one of the largest watercourse in Zimbabwe, it runs through the lives of many in the area across Manicaland, has sustained millions, continued to inspire many generations, but, the benefits of having such a river are still yet to be fully realised.

Maengeni Bingandade is a small holder farmer from Zimunya area in Mutare who had been into farming particularly horticulture, she says over the years she had been facing the challenge of having to fetch the water for irrigation using buckets.

Now a beneficiary one of the manual irrigation pumps, which were launched in Harare early this year, says she is now able to make good use of the vast perennial water resources in her region and maximise production.

The two launched products, MoneyMaker Max, and MoneyMaker Hip are cylinder foot and hip operated pumps developed by KickStart International which has branches in Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia.

Apart from being a means of income generation, Bingandade says the pump improved her family’s health, as can now have access to good food all year round. She could have pumpkins, vegetable salads, carrots, peas, and green beans, the produce that nutritionists say to be rich in nutrients.

“I am now able to teach others in my community, including school children how to use the pump, while they do the watering for me in the process. After the demos I can give them some of my produce to take home. At times school children may opt for money to buy the school materials they need,” says Bingandade who is also the national overall winner at the 2015 Harare Agricultural Show farmers’ category.

Africa’s capacity in attaining the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDCs) whose prime aims are centred on effective utilisation of available technologies, resources, expertise to end poverty in all its forms lies in the region’s, ability to fully harnessed its vast water resources, the panacea to economic and social development.

 

Zim hip pumpThe continent is endowed with abundant water resources, trapped rivers, dams, and lakes with catchments areas greater than 100 000 square kilometres (Km2), but is not being fully utilised. The scarcity of water in the region therefore is not only due to the natural phenomena, but also to low levels of development and exploitation of water resources against the growing demand for it.

 

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister in Zimbabwe, Joseph Made says 80% of farming production is attributed to water with soil fertility and other elements accounting for the remainder, and as such he believes that technological innovations in the area of irrigation is key to the attainment food security in the region.

Made says affordable technologies like the ‘Moneymaker Manual Irrigation Pumps, is vital for small holder farmers as do not require electricity or fuel to function. The minister added that it is important to rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes and promote innovation in affordable water drawing technologies.

“As for manual irrigation pumps technology, it is simple and enables farmers to make use of vast open water sources the region has, it is ideal for those in rural areas as do not need electricity or fuel to function. This technology is very much in line with the SDGs,” minister Made said.

The minister pointed out that where interventions like manual pumps have been employed by farmers in the Sub-Saharan Africa the yields have been higher than in rain fed only areas.

KickStart International, Director, Tom Opapa, concurs with Made, bemoans the underutilization of water saying the untapped waters in Africa have the potential to irrigate 15 to 20 million farms and lift millions of people out of poverty.

“Only 4% of farmland in Sub Saharan Africa is irrigated yet there are huge water resources with great potential but there are limited affordable technologies to fully benefit from the available water bodies,” he says.

In the SADC region, water demand is projected to rise by at least 3% annually until 2020, a rate equal to the region’s population growth (SARDC, lUCN, AND SADC, 1994). As a result demand is estimated to further go up by 2025. Up to 16% of Africa’s population (230 million) will be living in countries facing water scarcity, and 32% (460 million) in water-stressed countries (Johns Hopkins, 1998). Already, the rising demand for increasingly scarce water in the drier parts of Africa is leading to growing concern about future access to water.

 

Meanwhile, according to the Africa Water Vision for 2025: Equitable and Sustainable Use of Water for Socioeconomic Development, Africa faces a number of serious socio-economic problems that call for urgent remedial action if current trends towards endemic poverty and pervasive underdevelopment are to be turned around.

 

The crucial role of water in accomplishing the needed socio-economic development goals is widely recognised, and it pointed out that water should not pose a constraint to such development for Africa, as the region appears to have abundant water resources with potential for the development of hydroelectric power also.

 

The Africa Water Vision for 2025 is thus designed to lead to a future where the full potential of Africa’s water resources can be readily unleashed to stimulate and sustain growth in the region’s economic development and social well-being.

 

Zim water pumps 2

Photos courtesy of KickStart International

It calls for a new way of thinking about water and a new form of regional cooperation through partnerships and solidarity between countries that share common water basins as existing between Zimbabwe and Zambia which share the Kariba Dam.

 

Even with its current poor performance, agriculture is the largest user of water in Africa, accounting for about 85-88 percent of total water use (UNEP, UNDP, W13, 1998). Yet only 185 million ha or 6 percent of the total area of the region is under cultivation. Of this, 12 million or 6% of the total cultivated area is under irrigation.

Africa has more than 160 lakes larger than 27 Km2, most of which are located around the equatorial region and the sub-humid East African Highlands within the Rift Valley. The continent has a huge potential for energy production through hydropower (1.4 million GWh per year). To exploit this, efforts are already under way to create regional power pools in Southern Africa (the Southern Africa Power Pool) and in Western Africa. Disregarding temporal and spatial climate variability, Africa has abundant rainfall and relatively low levels of withdrawals of water for the three major uses of water -agriculture, community water supply and industry that amounts to only 3.8% of internal renewable resources.

 

Of the total amount of water withdrawn, 85% is for use in agriculture, 9% is for community water supply and 6% is for industry. The only exception is in the northern countries where the withdrawals are 18.6% and 152.6% of rainfall and internal renewal resources respectively.

 

“This determinant of scarcity is likely to increase in significance in the future with growth in economic activities both in the agricultural and in the industrial sectors unless a sustainable source for financing water resources development is introduced,” read part of the vision 2025.

 

 

 

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