Solar irrigation for food security

The problem

Rainfall in the Gwanda area is increasingly erratic and climate change is expected to reduce it further.  The area has no grid connection and farmers struggle to irrigation their land with diesel engines. Old irrigation schemes lie idle because of lack of investment and maintenance. Food is scarce with many families surviving on food aid in periods of drought.

This work will use the power of the sun to irrigate gardens to enable farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming. It will support farmers to obtain improved access to markets, better extension services and agricultural information and finance. 

What we’re doing to help

Objective: To increase sustainable agricultural productivity and incomes for smallholder farmers through access to solar powered irrigation systems 

Enhanced agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change through solar irrigation

Location: Gwanda, Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe
Number of beneficiaries: 919 smallholder farmers, at least 75% women and youths
Project date: October 2017 - August 2020
Principal funders: SIDA
Funding: £1.9 million

The project will install solar water pumping systems for three 23 hectare irrigation schemes at Sukwi, Silikwe and Sebasa with rehabilitation work on water conveyance systems and 15 one hectare gardens.

Solar pumping will enable farmers to cultivate more of their land and to grow crops to sell as well as to feed their families. Learning water conservation techniques will help these communities become more resilient to drought. Maintenance training will ensure that the system is kept in working order and a community ownership structure will oversee implementation of the work. 



Solar energy brings hope for Zimbabwe's farmers

Practical Action CEO, Paul Smith Lomas visited the region to talk to farming communities about the challenges they face.  He describes the visit in the video below.

Look how far your money can go

“I am so happy with the coming of this solar technology! – Sphiwe Ncube, Gwanda, Zimbabwe


Determination at Zibiliseni garden

“Our name Zibiliseni means 'determination' and we are indeed determined!" asserts Sphiwe Ncube, who makes a living by growing and selling vegetables as part of the 42 member Zibilseni garden scheme.  She farms in Gwanda, an area with low, erratic rainfall. Life is a...

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