Mapping the suitability of solar energy-based irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

In recent years, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has worked to improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods in rural communities in Ethiopia by increasing the value and effectiveness of agricultural water management through small-scale irrigation. However, while the potential to benefit from small-scale irrigation appears significant, it is constrained by access to the energy sources needed to pump water and the limited opportunities for gravity-fed small-scale irrigation systems. Electricity is rarely available to farmers on small, dispersed plots and high fuel costs mean that smallholder farmers cannot rely on diesel or petrol pumps for lifting surface water and shallow groundwater. Building on this, a recent IWMI study determined that solarpowered irrigation pumps offer an inexpensive and effective alternative to electric and fuel-based pumps, enabling farmers to overcome energy-related access and cost constraints to expanding irrigation. The technology also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is, therefore, considered a climatesmart technology. To ensure the feasibility of solar-powered irrigation, researchers also tested a new methodology for mapping the suitability of solar irrigation throughout Ethiopia.