Annual Report 2015: Mountain innovations and community practices

Solar Pumps Help Women Farmers as well as Environment 

An unexpected benefit was discovered in the course of field research on solar water pumps. The intent of the project in Nepal’s Saptari District was to enable farmers to irrigate fields in clean, affordable ways, looking in particular at how the pumps are really used by farmers and to see if the green alternative, which is good on paper, is practical on the ground. 

The surprise: the solar pumps aren’t just environmentally friendly and cheaper to operate, they’re gender friendly. Diesel pumps are heavy and unwieldy to operate. Manual treadle pumps have reproductive health risks for women. Electricity for electrical pumps is often unavailable. But solar pumps start with the push of a button, and that could make an important difference for women – who often grow their own vegetables for the market, keep the income, and increasingly must replace men who are absent as migrant labourers. 

Solar pumps are as powerful as diesel pumps, but cleaner, less expensive, quieter, and easier to use. The operating cost, after the price of the pump itself, is essentially free. The added findings on gender equity could make them an even more realistic alternative. 

20,500   NPR saved annually on diesel (USD 190)

206,000 NPRR of additional profit each household can earn (uSD 1,900)