S.E.L.F.’S AWARD-WINNING SOLAR IRRIGATION FEEDS BENIN
Solar Electric Light Fund Named a Winner in Ashoka's Changemakers Challenge; Innovative Solar Market Garden Transforms Women's Lives Through Technology
July 1, 2010 (AScribe Newswire)
"The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has been announced as one of three winners in the Women | Tools | Technology Challenge sponsored by Ashoka's Changemakers and ExxonMobil in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Other winning entries were submitted by Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia, Namibia, and Lua Nova Association, Brazil. The winners were selected from 268 project entries from 67 different countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East…
The first Market Garden crop produced from solar-powered irrigation. (click to enlarge)
"SELF's Solar Market Garden (SMG) project in Benin, West Africa is changing women's lives in a variety of ways. Without access to an electric grid or municipal water infrastructure, women and girls in the villages of Bessassi and Dunkassa previously relied on carrying water by hand - sometimes over great distances - to grow their food, a process that consumed many valuable hours of labor each day. Each farmer's plot was small and produced an inadequate supply to support a family…"
A farm field without solar-powered irrigation. (click to enlarge)
"SELF partnered with the Niger-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to devise the marriage of solar-powered water pumps with highly efficient drip irrigation tubes, delivering water and fertilizer directly to plants even during the six-month dry season. The SMGs allow women farmers to cultivate larger plots and grow crops year round, breaking the cycle of starvation and malnutrition that accompanied traditional rainfall patterns…"
The same field irrigated. (click to enlarge)
[Robert Freling, executive director, SELF:] "The cash prize will help us provide…training for all the women in the three farming collectives and help them continue to reduce labor requirements, improve nutritional yield, and increase crop size…Ashoka's Changemakers' tremendous renown will help us both elevate the visibility and increase the credibility of this project as we seek to raise the funds necessary to take it to scale and develop its commercial viability."
Pride of ownership. (click to enlarge)
"...The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit working to reduce energy poverty and combat climate change by bringing solar power and wireless Internet access to remote rural villages in the developing world. SELF has pioneered innovative applications of solar power for drip irrigation in Benin, telemedicine in the Amazon rainforest, vaccine refrigeration in Rwanda, online distance learning in South Africa, and microenterprise development in Nigeria. These successful pilot projects culminated in SELF's whole-village approach, or Solar Integrated Development model. Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in 20 countries…"