Transforming agriculture in semi-arid sun-rich area (Team Leader: Prof. Byaruhanga Joseph, Team members: Ojara Peter , Wangi Mario)

The Need: To the semi-arid regions of Eastern Africa, water is one of the most powerful and yet scarce resources that is needed for agricultural activities. In areas where surface water aquifers exist, one of the biggest challenges is the access to low cost technology for transferring water from where it is located to where it is needed. Delivery of additional water for irrigation, livestock watering and domestic consumption can not only prolong the productive period but can allow diversification of crop and animal husbandry in these regions. The costs of irrigation pumps currently on the market are prohibitive. The cheapest pumps available from leading pump manufactures cost a minimum of 500 USD, which is inaccessible to many rural communities in Africa. Moreover, cheap pumps are often powered by kerosene, further driving up the cost of running them. Wide-scale use of kerosene for powering irrigation would also have substantial effects on the environment, and the engines are notorious for noise pollution.

The Innovation:

A team of Makerere University Innovators have developed a very-low-cost solar powered irrigation pump that is cast from locally available scrap materials with an optimized engine to increase its efficiency.

The impact:

The pump has the potential to substantially increase access to low cost solutions for local irrigation and water transfer for other purposes. This technology will increase agricultural output from semi-arid communities in Eastern Africa and transform social attitudes, community perceptions about irrigation as a means to increased crop yield and livelihoods diversification in marginal communities in sub-Saharan Africa.


Solar Irrigation Pump Prototype

Etunganan Jacob (Student); Other members on the team: Ojara Peter (Student); Prof. Byaruhanga Joseph (Faculty);; Tel: +256712675730