Sun and water, drop by drop
The We Are Water Foundation collaborates with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation promoting the installation of photovoltaic panels to operate the pumps that draw water from the subsoil and distribute it in a drip irrigation system. The goal is to revolutionize the farming productivity and water management in the Anantapur and Kurnool regions, some of the poorest areas hit by desertification and threatened by climate change.
Agricultural irrigation with groundwater is one of the activities that involve a greater electricity consumption, as it implies, as we have seen, energy to pump water and to pressure the pipes. The economic and environmental cost is high: the most disadvantaged farmers also suffer fuel poverty, as they depend mainly on the purchase of fuel for the electric generators, a non-renewable source of energy that emits CO2, the gas that is mainly responsible for climate change.
Food security, empowerment and recovery of the soil
The installation of a solar-powered drip irrigation system provides farmers with important benefits:
- It increases the effectiveness of crops and therefore their profitability. Farmers can also extend the arable lands.
- The management of groundwater is improved. One of the risks of the use of solar pumps is that farmers can use more water than necessary, as they do not depend on the cost of the diesel generators. The implementation of drip irrigation avoids the waste of water and this can be managed much more precisely. The problem of over-exploitation of aquifers is therefore notably reduced.
- Farmers may diversify their crops. In Anantapur and Kurnool, the monoculture of peanuts implies a high vulnerability to pests and to the whims of monsoon rains, as any of these factors may trigger the sudden ruin of thousands of people, as it has happened in the last few decades. With the facilitation of the access to water and drip irrigation, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation has promoted the farming of fruits and vegetables, thus increasing food security and the level of income of farmers.
- The savings of water and the reduction of energy costs, along with other actions to recover aquifers, such as the building of small dams to collect rainwater and reforestation, increases the resilience of the community significantly: the independence from monsoons and from the price of fuel is increased, the erosion of the land is slowed down and the resources for a sustainable economic exploitation, both in stockbreeding and in aquaculture, are increased.
- The system appears as one of the pillars for the protection of the environment, the only way to ensure the long-term survival of an ecosystem, this being the key to the permanence in the land, the maintenance of the cultural roots and the gender balance.
This allows the achievement of one of the main goals of both foundations: to slow down the migration to large cities, where destitute farmers, mainly belonging to the lowest castes of the Indian society, end up crammed in unhealthy and unworthy places without an option to prosper.
Some projects as an example
The We Are Water Foundation collaborates since the beginning with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in several projects with the aim of providing access to water and sanitation to the most disadvantaged in India. Each one of them is a roadmap to follow in order to solve specific problems.
Regarding the promotion of the solar-powered drip irrigation you may check the Installation of new solar-powered irrigation systems in Andhra Pradesh.
In the development of the access to water review the Construction of water infrastructures for collecting and using water, the Digging of wells in the B.K. Samudram region and the Digging of wells in Andra Pradesh.
The goals of creating infrastructures for the collection of rain water can be seen in the project Construction of a reservoir in Ganjikunta.