Communities learn about solar water pumps


A roadshow demonstrating solar powered water pumps was taken to several districts across Nepal from 14 to 21 October 2014 by a team from ICIMOD and Atom Solar, a solar company based in India. 

In Sindhupalchowk and Sindhuli districts, participants from water scarce areas learned about various aspects of the solar water pump – the vertical distance across which the pump can draw water, the costs involved in installing a multiple stage lift system, and government’s subsidy policies for solar powered pumps. 

In Saptari district, the team demonstrated the pump to a target group of vegetable farmers who had never seen a solar pump before. They were keen to learn about the pump’s capacity for different crops and land sizes, and about the security of solar panels. In their view, community ownership of the pump would be more viable as individual farmers would not be able to afford it. 

The group asked questions about the government’s subsidy policies and discussed financial options such as bank collateral and interest. As many of them had fragmented land parcels, which couldn’t be accessed even by a mobile solar pump, the team recommended that they keep the solar pump at a fixed location and obtain water for irrigation through pipes. 

In Chitwan district, the team gave an impromptu demonstration to officials and representatives from government and community forests, including the chief warden, all of whom were curious to see the solar pump technology. Their opinion was that the pump could revive the wetlands and prevent animals from migrating in dry season, which in turn would help prevent poaching, improve wildlife management, and increase tourism. The officials suggested collaborating with ICIMOD to install a pump each in the state forest and the community forest and monitor its impact. 

On the whole, the demo aroused much interest and enthusiasm among the community members and helped disseminate necessary information on the solar pump technology. The team identified a couple of sites in the mid-hills for possible installation. ICIMOD is also planning to coordinate with the Department of Irrigation to conduct demonstrations in the sites identified by them.  

The roadshow was the first of its kind in Nepal.