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Hip-driven Pump Brings Water to Parched Fields

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Finding ways to increase agricultural productivity is key to expanding food supplies and making farming pay. With the world’s population continuing to rise and becoming more urban, there is a pressing need to improve both the quantity and quality of food supplies.

The many small-scale farmers across the global South – and their high levels of poverty – demonstrates the urgent need to change the way farming is done.

Based on Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) census data, it has been estimated that some 525 million farms exist worldwide, providing a livelihood for about 40 per cent of the world’s population. Nearly 90 per cent of these are small farms with less than 2 hectares of land (Nagayets, 2005). Average farm sizes around the world run from 1.6 hectares in Africa to 121 hectares in North America.

Small farms occupy about 60 per cent of the arable land worldwide and contribute substantially to global farm production. In Africa, 90 per cent of agricultural production is derived from small farms (Spencer, 2002).

One social enterprise is pioneering the development and selling of innovative farming tools for these small-scale farmers to increase their efficiency and make their lives better and more profitable. The MoneyMaker Hip Pump is a lightweight irrigation tool designed to be used by anyone, but aimed especially at women farmers. It helps to increase the amount of water that can be pumped into a field during the dry season. To date, the makers of the pump, Kickstart (kickstart.org), claim to have sold 190,000 pumps. It can irrigate up to 0.40 hectare of land.

Kickstart, which calls itself a non-profit promoting technology and entrepreneurism in Africa, develops and markets simple agricultural tools for Africa’s rural poor so they can improve their businesses. The company estimates it has helped 600,000 people since it was founded in 1991.

The MoneyMaker Hip Pump was launched in stores in 2006 and received a sales and marketing push in 2008. It sells for US $30 and weighs 4.5 kilograms. Kickstart says the pump’s most effective attribute is its simple pivot hinge. This pivot hinge allows the user to combine their body weight and strength from their legs with sheer momentum to power the pump rather than straining upper back and shoulder muscles – something that is very hard on farmers’ bodies and leads to repetitive strain injuries that shorten a farmer’s effective working life.

The pump can pull water from 7 metres and push water up a field for 14 metres.

Kickstart says that by early 2012, it had sold 32,037 pumps.

Reporting in a paper for the World Bank, Vincent Nnamdi Ozowa found smallscale farmers needed five things that will make a big difference to their productivity: better access to information on new methods, scientific advances and timely market updates; better education and improved literacy rates;access to credit; better marketing; and better technology that minimizes drudgery and improves efficiency.

In 2011, Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report found small-scale agriculture could be key to tackling world hunger and poverty. It urged a move away from industrial agriculture and towards small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa, believing it could make big gains by being more efficient and reducing waste.

Kickstart has found communities are receptive to the idea of using the pumps and building agro businesses.

“These are people who are already entrepreneurs, so it is not like we are sensitizing them; they are people who are trying to find ways to make money,” Kickstart Tanzania’s Anne Atieno Otieno told AllAfrica.com.

“When we meet them in the communities we talk to them about the value of irrigation versus relying on rainfall. Most of them are used to having to wait for the rain. At the time we were working with the Super MoneyMaker pump, which is a bigger, more expensive pump. They asked if we could make a low entry pump, which we passed on to our tech deputy and that is how we came up with the MoneyMaker Hip Pump.”

It is part of a range of products Kickstart makes to aid small farmers become more productive (kickstart.org/products).

KickStart believes that self-motivated private entrepreneurs managing smallscale enterprises can play a dynamic role in the economies of developing countries.

These entrepreneurs can raise small amounts of capital (US $100 to US $1,000) to start a new enterprise. KickStart then helps them to identify viable business opportunities and access the technologies required to launch the new enterprises.

Kickstart also uses something called a Mobile Layaway service to make it easier for farmers to afford a pump. This service lets farmers pay off the cost of the pump in small instalments by mobile phone. The farmer can choose how large or small the instalment is according to their means.

“Speaking to the women, and going out into the field and speaking with farmers, we identified a major obstacle – purchasing power, the ability to buy the pump. In Africa, in the field, the pump is a capital item,” Otieno said.

“They really have to organize themselves to be able to save for it. And so when we were speaking to the farmers, many were asking us, ‘Can you come up with a credit facility?’ or some system whereby they could purchase the pumps, because many of them wanted the pump but they were not able to afford it.

“The program works through a mobile phone service, MPesa (http://www.safaricom.co.ke/index.php?id=250) … so the farmers are able to save money, and send money through that program.”

Kickstart recently received an award from the US State Department and the Rockefeller Foundation for “transforming agriculture for women by harnessing technology and spurring entrepreneurship.”

Published: April 2012

Resources

1) Information Needs of Small Scale Farmers in Africa: The Nigerian Example by Vincent Nnamdi Ozowa. Website: http://www.worldbank.org/html/cgiar/newsletter/june97/9nigeria.html

2) The New Harvest, Agricultural Innovation in Africa by Calestous Juma. The book outlines strategies for making Africa self-sufficient and argues Africa is

capable of feeding itself in one generation. Website: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/20504/new_harvest.html

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

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Southern Innovator Magazine Is Printed And Readied For Distribution | 31 May 2011

“What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It’s a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… Really looking forward to what you produce in issues #2 and #3. This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff.” 

Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box

I had the pleasure of visiting the printing plant to witness the presses rolling with the first issue of new global magazine, Southern Innovator. The magazine has been in careful development and saw its name evolve from Creative Sparks to Southern Innovator. As Shakespeare noted in his play Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” And it is what Southern Innovator is that counts the most.

This first issue is just the beginning of a process, a back-and-forth dialogue with our readers as we refine and improve the magazine to boost its impact. The first issue’s theme – mobile phones and information technology – was chosen because of the sheer dynamism of this area and some jaw-dropping achievements: the growth of mobile phone usage in Africa represents an unprecedented take-up of a new technology, often in some of the poorest places on the planet. That impresses and it seemed right to share information about the amazing people behind this phenomenon and the lessons they learned along the way. It has also become clear in the research behind the monthly e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions (published since 2006), that significant future development gains will not happen without the aid of mobile phones and information technology, and, important to note, will need these tools to raise living standards for all the world’s people in an environment of increasing competition and pressure for resources.

Used right, mobile phones and information technology allow the efficient use of resources. But, as anyone who has worked with technology knows, this isn’t a given. Vast sums of money and time can be squandered if technology is not used intelligently, or lessons not learned from past failures. It is hoped Southern Innovator‘s first issue can contribute to a better use of resources, and by taking a broad look at what is happening out there, enlighten readers to new ideas, people and concepts.

Southern Innovator is designed in Iceland by Graphic Designer and Illustrator Solveig Rolfsdottir. 

“Question Box was featured in Southern Innovator, a new publication of UNDP that profiles some of the most innovative ideas coming out of the global South. We were pleased to see many friends in the sector profiled as well, such as UshahidiMedic Mobile, and TxtEagle. Take a look at the magazine, as it is a great primer on ICT and mobile innovation from around the globe.”

Question Box News

“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it”

Peggy Lee on Pinterest
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New Magazine! | 13 October 2010

Just back from a trip to Canada and am headlong into the production of a new magazine. The magazine is being made in collaboration with Icelandic graphic designer and illustrator Solveig Rolfsdottir. As the magazine progresses, I shall post more on the blog about its creative journey and details about its launch.

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Betterplace.org HQ Photos

Betterplace sign
Joana at Betterplace HQ, Berlin
Betterplace project board
Joana points
Joana 3
Joana at work
Joana Breidenbach at betterplace.org HQ
United Nations e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions visited the Berlin, Germany headquarters of start-up betterplace.org in 2009. It was the dawn of the Berlin digital tech boom.

Making The World A Better Place For Southern Projects

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Good ideas are plentiful, but how to fund life-improving projects has always been a thorny issue. Judging how effective a project is can also be fraught with debate and contention. Over the past two decades, the number of NGOs in the global South has exploded (http://lboro.ac.uk/gawc/rb/rb144.html). The best of them offer the local knowledge and understanding required to make development gains. But unlike NGOs in the North, many lack the powerful fundraising capabilities of the big global NGO brands.

An exciting new initiative based in Germany, but already featuring hundreds of projects from across the South, is using the power of the internet to directly connect projects and donors.

Joana Breidenbach, an anthropologist, author and co-founder of betterplace.org (www.betterplace.org), says NGOs are emerging in India and other countries of the South to challenge the big Northern global NGOs.

“Why wouldn’t you want to donate to these Southern NGOs? There are more entrepreneurs and local approaches which are better.

“Betterplace gives local institutions a platform to express themselves.”

Started in 2007, betterplace is an online marketplace for projects to raise funds. It is free, and it passes on 100 percent of the money raised on the platform to the projects. The foundation that runs betterplace supports its overheads by offering additional services that people can pay for if they wish. It works in a way similar to the online marketplace eBay (http://www.ebay.com): NGOs post their project, set up an account, blog about their achievements and successes and needs, and receive donations direct to their bank account when they come in.

Breidenbach points out up to a third of any NGO’s income is spent on fundraising. In Germany, that represents more than Euro 1.3 billion out of over Euro 4 billion in private donations – money that could have gone directly into the hands of the people needing help.

With betterplace, donators can surf through the projects and pick the one they want. Already, more than 100 large corporations trawl through betterplace seeking projects to fund to meet their corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility).

“I find it very exciting to introduce a good and innovative NGO to a corporate sponsor,” Breidenbach said.

Breidenbach says betterplace’s ultimate goal is “to transfer the donation market online.” It hopes to change the rules in donation and charity in the same way blogs and the search engine Google changed the way people publish and search for information.

“This provides better transparency, feedback,” Breidenbach said. “Now (with betterplace) donors and organizations can cut out the middlemen. A lot of established organizations do not like this too much.”

Over the past decade, new concepts like social entrepreneurs and venture philanthropy have emerged to straddle the delicate line between social good and private profit. Betterplace joins this wave of new thinking about how to do development better.

In the 20 months since betterplace went online more than 1,500 projects have joined. They are now averaging between 20 to 35 new projects joining every week.

Betterplace is a simple open-plan office on the top floor of a Berlin warehouse beside the city’s Spree river. The small team (http://www.betterplace.org/about_us/team) work on laptop computers. A blackboard on the wall details in bright colours a running tally of the projects that have joined.

Breidenbach gives the example of a mother in Cameroon who is using betterplace to raise the school fees for her children. The mother blogs about the children’s progress and has been able to raise the fees for a year and a half.

“People are now directly connected to somebody in need.”

“Right now the functionality (of the website) does not allow people getting in contact publicly and we want to enable this knowledge transfer in 2010. If you want to build a well in Cameroon then you could search for the best technology and to contact other people who are doing similar projects to learn from them.”

Success on betterplace is by no means certain. “The experience of the project managers has been as varied as development work is – some have done really well, raising thousands of Euros over the website – others have received no funding at all,” Breidenbach said.

But betterplace provides tools to give the projects the best chance possible. “Projects can present their work, breaking it down in a transparent way (in order to let supporters know exactly what is needed for their realization), there are sound payment processes in place and project managers can give feedback through their project blog, supporters can download project widgets etc., all supplied free of charge.”

Breidenbach has other tips for making betterplace work for a project: post details in English when creating a profile, break down the project into much smaller, low-cost goals (few people are willing to make large donations) – this also has the advantage of receiving payments straight away when they are small. Tell a good story about the project, and try and use actual testimonials from the people affected. Blog and update regularly with photos and videos to keep people engaged. Also avoid copying and pasting text from a previous grant application.

“We have the numbers to show that projects which give regular feedback and have a lively web of trust receive more donations than others, which are not very active.”

“Don’t think you can just go on to betterplace and the money starts rolling in,” said Breidenbach.

The betterplace platform places all projects seeking funds on the same level, allowing individuals and small NGOs to compete equally with the big, branded global NGOs with their websites and sophisticated fundraising operations.

“All the big NGOs have their own websites,” continues Breidenbach. “But it is the small initiatives that often don’t have a website or know how to use Pay Pal etc. (http://www.paypal.com). We are very useful for smaller NGOs.”

“Another big advantage is that we are a real marketplace: whatever your interests (as a potential donor), you will find a project tackling this issue on the platform.”

But what about fraud and people seeing betterplace as a coin-making machine rather than a way to make the world a better place?

“We have a feeling for dodgy projects. We check the IP address. We have a number of trust mechanisms in place (and are currently working on enlarging them). Thus projects on betterplace can create trust through their good name … But we also include something which I would call network-trust: In our web of trust different kinds of stakeholders of an organization or a project have a voice and can publicly state what they think of it. Thus beneficiaries of a project can say if the project has done them good or has been counterproductive, people who have visited the project on the ground can describe what they have seen etc. … we hope to give a much denser and more varied impression of social work and give donors (a terribly badly informed group of people), the basis for a much more informed choice.

“If a contributor to a project is dissatisfied with the project’s outcome … she can either directly contact the project manager via betterplace, or openly voice her concern on the project page for other potential donors to see her views.”

For now, betterplace is still only useful to people who have access to the internet and have a bank account (necessary for the money transfers). But in the future betterplace hopes to have mobile phone interactivity and more features to expand who they can reach.

“We are also re-working our site to make it more intuitive and easier to use for people without computer skills,” Breidenbach said. “In the pipeline is also a knowledge backbone, enabling people to access knowhow about development and social innovation issues and exchange views and experiences. This will be very useful for projects in the South as so many people are working on the same issues without knowing about it. They could learn a lot from each other, without the “help” of the north.”

With internet broadband in Africa set to take off, according to the report Africa Connect: Undersea Cables to Drive an African Broadband Boom (http://www.pyr.com/downloads.htm?id=5&sc=PR090309_INSAME1.6), even more people will soon be able to make the most of initiatives like betterplace.

Betterplace.org Sign

Published: September 2009

Resources

1) CSR Wire: This is a news service with all the latest news, reports and events and where companies announce their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes and how much they are contributing. A great resource for any NGO looking to make a targeted appeal for funds. Website: http://www.csrwire.com/

2) Alibaba: Alibaba.com is an online marketplace started in China but is now global. It allows businesses from all over the world to trade with each other, make deals and find funding. Website: http://www.alibaba.com/

3) More photos from the Betterplace HQ in Berlin, Germany. Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15195144@N06/sets/72157622386871044/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uXWUyfb4MacC&dq=development+challenges+september+2009&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsseptember2009issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021