On November 4th 2020, GIZ and Energy 4 Impact announced the start of a new collaboration under the Water and Energy 4 Growth initiative. Energy 4 Impact is a non-profit organization which accelerates the growth of locally-led businesses in the energy access space, to stimulate economic growth and employment in off-grid rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Its work involves promoting social equity, building climate-resilient economies, and affecting sustainable development outcomes in disadvantaged communities.
The Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge (WE4F) is a joint international initiative to improve energy and water efficiency in the agricultural sector through environmentally sustainable innovations. This collaboration with Energy 4 Impact will address critical shortcomings in traditional farming methods. Farming in sub-Saharan African is typically characterised by unmechanized farming systems reliant on rainfed production. Smallholder farmers struggle with insufficient knowledge of efficient cropping techniques, agronomic and horticultural practices, limited access to farm inputs such as seeds and fertiliser, and a lack of appropriate storage facilities, technology and market data, digital services and mobile finance.
The lack of irrigation is both a symptom and cause of such problems. This new initiative will put three collaborative programmes in place in order to provide innovative clean energy solutions:
- Solar Irrigation for Smallholder Farmers in Least Developed Regions of Tanzania Project will boost the livelihoods and resilience of Tanzanian smallholder farmers through holistic support services, access to finance and information and increasing the uptake of small-scale solar irrigation equipment.
- The Green Energy and Finance to Energize Food Production in Senegal and Benin Project is split into separate work programmes for each country. Both programmes aim to improve the livelihoods and resilience of paddy rice farmers and processors through access to solar irrigation and processing technologies, technical assistance and holistic support services.
Making farmers aware of the advantages of solar-powered irrigation is at the heart of this initiative: the programmes will improve their solar market knowledge, provide information on how energy efficiency improves profitability, demonstrate business models for scaling up, co-ordinate linkages with financial institutions for loans and suppliers for pay-as-you-go services, and furnish technical assistance. Yet beyond the acquisition of small-scale solar irrigation units, WE4F will take a holistic approach to ensure the long-term efficacy of such programmes. Therefore, the support to farmers from GIZ and Energy 4 Impact will also encompass advice on agronomy, productive uses of solar energy in post-harvest processing and routes to market.
It is anticipated that such innovative clean energy solutions will boost farm profitability, local markets and the wider agricultural sector. For smallholder farmers, it will lead to increased productivity, higher incomes, increased resilience to drought, stronger agronomic and commercial skills, diversification of crops and easier access to finance. We also envisage a ripple effect on local markets: governments in the target regions have made a commitment to support this initiative by facilitating agricultural extension work. The three programmes will also generate a wealth of knowledge that will help galvanize the use of renewable energy within the agricultural sector.