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Solar driven rope water pump for drought vulnerable communities in PNG

A partnership between NARI and the Korean Government through the Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA) has seen the successful piloting of a solar driven rope-water pump technology in selected drought vulnerable communities of PNG. This is an innovation that will support sustainable rural farming for food security and income during extreme drought conditions.

The objective of the initiative was to develop and disseminate water pumps that have better performance and to install irrigation facilities in drought vulnerable communities so as to establish a foundation of regional economic vitalization.

KIPA developed the design of the improved water pump and NARI manufactured, installed and tested the water pumps according to a structural blueprint of the design.

With the involvement of model farmers, the project was implemented in three different sites - Gabansis and Intuap in Morobe Province and Hisiu in the Central Province - since 2015. A total of 12 farmers appreciated the new mechanism that stands to improve their access to water and food production.

PNG is one of the countries that have been strongly affected by the El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific region. The latest dry spell started in April 2015 and prolonged for about 10 months, creating food insecurity for more than 2.7 million people.

The impact of this El Nino-induced drought on water supply and agriculture (water shortages and loss of agricultural produce) was severe with negative consequences in terms of lack of harvest throughout the whole of 2016.

In March last 2016, the World Food program estimated that about 1, 473,000 people were still affected at that time with 180, 000 requiring food aid.  The lack of harvest contributed to the increase in food prices.

The appropriate technology on solar driven rope pump is a modification from an existing rope and washer pump technology, which is manually operated. With this innovation, labour input is reduced with the abundance of solar or green energy that runs the motor for drifting of ground water.  Large volumes of water can be drifted from as low as 20 meters underground and easily channelled onto lawns and food gardens. One of the key features is water harvested through this process is sufficient for farming irrigation on a sustainable basis and is best suited for rural and remote communities with lack of electricity access.  

The technology has great potential to support other communities in the 22 districts of PNG which suffered from the 2015 drought. About three million people faced serious food shortage and starvation as garden foods ran out.  Drought occurs in PNG when water requirements of garden crops are greater than soil water availability, following a serious lack of rain over a period of time since PNG agriculture is primarily rain-fed. The drought situation can be exhaxibated  due to the inability of many PNG farmers to irrigate their crops using underground water or from nearby rivers.  

Water uplifted using the solar driven rope water pump can also be used for drinking (and other household use). The bio-sand filter technology of purification can be applied to water bound for domestic use, especially drinking.

The NARI/KIPA solar pump initiative demonstrated the use of the drip irrigation system at a Laloki Field Day in December 2016 which attracted a lot of farmers and stakeholders in the region.

The project trials were carried out in some of the worst affected communities during droughts. The overall outcome was overwhelmed and many groups and individuals expressed interest to adopt the technology.

NARI and KIPA (Korean Embassy) intend to upscale this technology across PNG, particularly in the 22 districts that were worst affected by the 2015 drought. KIPA has given the green light to take the process to the next level by expanding the activities to other communities of PNG. Part of the up-scaling component will see the provision of parts and services locally for interested intermediaries and communities.

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