Strathmore Energy Research Center (SERC) launched the first Solar Water Pumping Course in East Africa
SERC has partnered with EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), Oxfam, International Organization for Migration (IOM)and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to roll out a course on solar water pumping.
Solar water pumps are commonly used to generate water for crop irrigation and domestic
consumption. Agriculture is a key enabler of the economic development in Kenya. The success
of other sectors - like export and manufacturing - is directly intertwined to agriculture.
Inconsistent rainfall is hindering the agricultural sector in Kenya from achieving its full potential. Subsistence farmers are looking for solar-powered irrigation systems to water their crops while others have considered eliminating rain-fed crops from their crop rotation.
Universal access to safe drinking water is a fundamental need and human right and yet globally
900m people still lack access to safe water. In Kenya, 42% of the population, an estimated 19m
Kenyans, still source their water from unimproved sources. Solar water pumping has the
potential to provide improved water sources for marginalized populations across Africa.
Prof. Izael Da Silva, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Innovation at Strathmore University
says, “Groundwater extraction is commonly done using diesel-powered electric water pumps.
This is not only costly to the farmers but also a cause of environmental degradation. We believe
that solar water pumps will help save time and money while enabling Kenya to meet the
emission targets under the Paris Agreement.”
Solar Water Pumping has proven to be financially, environmentally and operationally
sustainable with the cost of solar dropping up to 80%. Due to the great reliability, solar water
pumps outlive the projects they were installed for.
“Analysis done in Africa by an ECHO funded solar project shows that a solar pumping system
will take 1-4 years to payback its initial investment, and will reduce the cost of ownership by
between 40-90% in comparison to a diesel pumping system. In some cases, we have seen that
solar is cheaper than diesel from the beginning.” Asenath Ndegwa, Oxfam Regional Solar
Pumping Coordinator - Horn, East and Central Africa
The newly launched course will provide hands-on training and foster further dialogue on best practices for effective solar water pumping in East Africa. The applicants should have a technical background.
The solar water pumping course will focus on solar technology, fluid dynamics, pump
mechanics, hydrology, irrigation, policy and regulatory frameworks. It will also give insights on
policy and regulatory frameworks, financing solutions and innovative business models with
socio-economic benefits to local economies.
The potential applications of this course include small-scale irrigation, potable water supply for
institutions, community-scale water supply schemes and livestock water supply.