Solar irrigation systems are a good alternative to diesel-powered pumps. However, end users and trainees need to be trained to use and disseminate this technology sustainably. In September 2021, GBE Ethiopia therefore launched short training courses for trainers, technicians, consumers, and teachers from vocational training institutes.
“The unique thing about the training is that it is also aimed at end users, who are also crucial for the development of the irrigation sector,” says Aychilum Sija, an irrigation engineer. He is one of a total of 100 course participants that GBE Ethiopia has trained in solar irrigation.
“With good education and training in the subject area of solar irrigation, we are creating a basis for the technology and the associated knowledge to take hold and spread more quickly,” says Feven Bekele, coordinator of the training component of GBE Ethiopia.
The training of a total of 11 trainers was the first step. In the next step, GBE Ethiopia is currently training a total of 100 professionals from the solar, irrigation and agricultural sectors as well as the vocational training institutes both theoretically and practically in this technology, which is still relatively new in Ethiopia.
Solar irrigation systems have numerous advantages over diesel pumps. They can be operated more cost-effectively and allow for a sparing use of water resources. “I am very happy that there is an alternative for irrigation, because many farmers struggle with the fact that diesel is not available on a regular basis. But they also complain about the high maintenance costs,” says course participant and development expert Alem Dema. “Thanks to the training, I have gained fundamental knowledge so that I can better support consumers in the future,” she adds. Clergyman Tesera Baje agrees. “The training showed me that a solar-powered pump can be a good substitute for a pump powered by a diesel generator. I will share this knowledge at home.“
The project now plans to set up additional training sites for solar irrigation at two other institutions. “This way we kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, we are spreading the know-how through additional channels, and on the other hand, the trainers and vocational school teachers we have trained can directly apply and pass on the skills they have acquired,” says Feven Bekele.
GBE Ethiopia implemented the training measure in cooperation with the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE) and the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and coordinated it with the Ethiopian offshoot of the Green Innovation Centres in Agri-Food (GIAE).