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Community Based Tubewells Pay Huge Dividends in Nigeria

For many of the farmers in Northern Nigeria, cultivation of their garden plots has become a lot easier- and more lucrative.  Northern Nigeria, a region well suited for irrigated horticulture, has a long history of irrigated agricultural production using slow, labor intensive, traditional water lifting methods such as hand dug wells, a rope and bucket, or the Shadouf (a rope and bucket on a counter balance).  Because of the constraints associated with these methods, farmers have been forced to cultivate very small plots and earn correspondingly little money.  Increased access to water is critical for achieving higher horticultural yields and expanding production.  Since January of 2005, with funding from the Diageo (Guinness) Foundation, EWV/Nigeria has been working to help these farmers by introducing and disseminating low-cost, high capacity, human powered water pumps and by installing hand-drilled tubewells to increase the versatility of the pumps.  Production and installation of the equipment resides in the hands of EWV-trained local entrepreneurs, further increasing employment in the region.

EWV’s project in northern Nigeria, although small in scale, has already provided full time employment for more than 600 farmers during the dry season and contributed to a higher standard of living for approximately 6,000 people. Gross revenues earned have surpassed $360,000 for the small farmers participating in the program and approximately $20,000 for the entrepreneurs trained to manufacture and distribute the pumps.

Kollo Sanda’s main source of income had always been farming. He and many others in his community had been using traditional methods to gain access to water for irrigation.  As part of the project, a team of drillers installed a tubewell, and Mr. Sanda’s life changed in more ways than he imagined.  Not only was he impressed by the results that the tubewell created, helping him to get water up to seven times faster than he used to and irrigating up to one hectare with a single pump, but he found himself so fascinated by the drilling techniques that he knew he wanted  learn to do it himself.  Mr. Sanda became a member of the first team to be trained by EWV in well installation. He was later elected the team leader because of his commitment to the work and passion for helping out his fellow farmers.  After his training was complete, Mr. Sanda came up with a plan to install tubewells for all the farmers in his community. To achieve this, he began installing tubewells on a credit basis. The farmers were asked to only pay the price of the pipe during the installation and would later be required to pay the balance during harvest time. This arrangement encouraged the farmers to trust Mr. Sanda and be confident in his work, which resulted in him installing more than one hundred tubewells.

These days, Mr. Sanda is earning more money than ever before.  He has fully committed himself to the installation of tubewells and his son has taken over the cultivation of their now plentiful garden plot.    Mr. Sanda has even become the sales agent for a pump manufacturer from a neighboring town. The manufacturer gives him a percentage of every pump that he sells, a transaction usually completed during tubewell installation.  He says, “I have benefited greatly from the project both as a farmer and a driller. My standard of living has improved so much that I now have enough resources for my domestic needs.  I even have enough income to build a house, buy an oxcart to transport the tubewell equipment and even money for the rearing of additional livestock.”