In Laikipia County, northwest of Mount Kenya, six out of ten households rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Although the potential for this sector is very good in the region, only ten percent of the smallholder farmers can actively irrigate their fields. One reason for this is that many of them live far from the national power grid and the use of diesel pumps is considered too expensive. Solar-powered water pumps therefore have the potential to provide significantly higher yields for the cultivation of vegetables as well as livestock raising. However, the high initial investment, limited availability of know-how, technologies and after-sales services are high hurdles that hinder the spread of solar irrigation systems.
The project “Access to Solar Water Pumps in Laikipia,” implemented by SNV Netherlands Developmnt Organisation, aims to help remove these obstacles and raise awareness for the benefits of solar irrigation systems. To this end, the project addresses several points along the entire value chain by promoting the marketing and sales channels of suppliers of solar pumping systems on the one hand, and training smallholder farmers in economically promising cultivation methods on the other.
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, founded in 1965, is a non-profit international development organisation active in the fields of energy, agriculture and water, sanitation and hygiene. It is currently present in more than 25 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, including Kenya.
In the energy sector, SNV brokers viable marketing concepts in the field of renewable energies – both for households and small and medium-sized enterprises. Through its work, SNV aims to end energy poverty and thus promote self-help.
Access to clean and affordable energy solutions is an important pillar for the economic development of the region. The project therefore places an important focus on awareness-raising and information campaigns to promote demand for solar water pumps. In parallel, the project also strengthens the supply side by supporting national and international manufacturers and traders to expand their distribution channels to rural areas. To enable more people to purchase solar water pumps, the project promotes access to appropriate, affordable and flexible payment models such as Pay as You Go (PAYGo) solutions or rural savings and credit groups. In the end, the economic viability of the solar pumps also depends on the buyers generating higher yields with the help of their solar water pumps. The highest returns are promised by the cultivation of vegetables in demand and the production of dairy and meat products. Therefore, the project trains smallholder farmers in best agricultural practices in these two fields.