Embassy of Japan in Uganda - Mr. Kentaro Takada, Researcher/Adviser
FAO - Ms. Kathryn Clark, Livelihoods Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
March 2018-March 2019
Through this project allow better access to key infrastructure to increase access to water for food production with the aim of increasing market availability of nutrition-sensitive foods to ease the pressure on local markets that are supporting refugee and host community households with the result of increasing food security across refugee and host community households
Increase market availability of nutrition-sensitive foods to meet refugee household food and nutrition security in the presence of cash-based interventions without distorting local markets. Use renewable and off-grid energy for refugee self-reliance.
One of the key constraints of agriculture production is access to inputs, with water being the most important. Developing efficient irrigation systems for nutrition-sensitive food requires an energy source to power irrigation schemes. Yet, only approximately 18% of rural populations have access to electricity. Solar-powered irrigation systems overcome key bottlenecks of both grid and fossil fuel-powered irrigation systems.
Solar-powered irrigation systems can be deployed where the national grid does not reach rural farmers. With solar power, farmers do not rely on the grid to irrigate and they know in advance when energy and thus water would be available. Fossil fuel-based irrigation systems increase the operational costs of irrigation systems and farmers’ choice to irrigate is based on the fuel availability and price. Solar-powered irrigation systems work best with efficient irrigation techniques with water storage (e.g. drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers) that require lower energy demands to operate.
Thus, the project aimed to strengthen the resilience of livelihood systems of refugees and host communities to absorb, recover and adapt sustainably to shocks through using renewable energy in agriculture and water-efficient technologies for year-round nutritious food production (e.g. carrots, eggplant, kale, okra, onion and tomato).
The project was facilitated by the flexibility of the Government of Japan to align life-saving support to the humanitarian-development nexus. In this context, FAO designed the project based on the development of the Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) toolbox developed by FAO and GIZ through which FAO implements a capacity-building project covering the Gambia, Kenya, Mali and Uganda. The different trainings initiated by FAO and GIZ in the region support the development of national capacities on solar irrigation.
- Local implementing partner – Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD)
- Local government focal point – District Production Office
- Service provider – Baata Engineering Company LTD
Challenges and how they were overcome
While the short-term time-frame of the life-saving nature permitted the installation of the solar-powered irrigation system, it did not adequately allow for the full operational and maintenance (O&M) capacity building (including a financing mechanism to cover the cost of maintenance) and accompaniment of the farmer group. To overcome this challenge, FAO intentionally linked the farmer group to an ongoing development initiative to enable the continued support to the farmer group to achieve these results in medium-term to long-term technical assistance.
As the activities under the humanitarian and the development interventions were both managed by FAO, the process to transition the farmer group between the initiatives was simpler to address.
Results of the Good Practice
- Increased production volume as they are able to produce year-round instead of relying on erratic rains for rain-fed production.
- Increased the Farmer Groups market linkages as traders now come to the garden site due to reliable availability of vegetables.
- Farmers have seen their income increase as they are able to meet dry season market demands and sell their produce at a higher price.
- The Robi Game Farmers Group has earned an estimated USD 21 000 on their four-acre market garden as of September 2019 (projected to earn USD 31 000 by December 2019).
- The group used the profits to buy inputs for the next planting season, saved some in their village savings and lending association (VSLA) and shared the remaining profit across all group members. They plan to buy water pipes and to open more land around the irrigation scheme to increase their production capacity.
In Uganda, FAO continues to support the development of solar-powered irrigation systems.