iDE UK’s New Climate Change Innovation Powered by the Nepali Sunshine!

Last week was ‘Climate Week’. Half a million people attended 3400 events making it Britain’s biggest ever climate change campaign. So, what are iDE UK doing about climate change I hear you ask?

At iDE UK we share Climate Week’s vision of inspiring action to create a sustainable future. We understand the devastating and complex challenges climate change represents to people and the planet and respond to these challenges by:

  • Designing sustainable market-based interventions that promote economic development in an environmentally sound way.
  • Designing technologies and solutions which use renewable energy.
  • Ensuring the farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs we work with are equipped to deal the consequences of changes to the climate.

Take the case of Nepal for example: Recent climatic change has shifted monsoon patterns in Nepal, restricting access to water in the dry season. Many poor, rural communities live at an altitude way above their nearest water source. Traditional pumps do not provide enough water for the community throughout the day. Women and girls are forced to battle increasingly extreme weather for their daily walk to fetch water, often a 3 hour trek. One of our Nepalese farmer clients told us, “Through carrying water many women got sick and had problems.”

Nepalese farmers carrying water

Walking to collect water can take over 3 hours

As many who have visited this beautiful country can tell you, living in these conditions is avoidable because there is abundant renewable energy available which can be used to pump water – sunshine!

Our latest innovation, Solar powered ‘multiple-use’ water pumps are designed to help entire communities in Nepal adapt to climate change and provide access to both clean domestic water and productive water for irrigation.

A happy customer

One happy villager stands by the newly installed ‘Solar MUS’

Each system can lift water up to remote communities from 100 meters below to serve 50 households (about 250 people) with water for both agriculture and as a safe drinking source.

This brings many benefits for rural communities: Farmers have been able to grow high value crops meaning each household is able to earn around £134 per year in additional income. Access to water for domestic use (worth £6,700 per year, per system) is revolutionising sanitation and hygiene. The system also greatly reduces the time women and children spend carrying water. When asked what she will do with the time she used to spend fetching water, one client said, “I’ll give more time to my children, get training for a skilled job and motivate the community”.


High value crop production as a result of efficient water irrigation

USAID’s Shanker Khagi visited our Multiple Use Water System (MUS) site in Kaski, Nepal last week, recalling; “I very much benefited from the interaction with field staff in learning about the Integrated Climate Change Adaptation activities that are being implemented.”

Scaling Up? iDE UK expect to reach 100,000 rural poor people with this new innovation. In order to do this iDE is currently looking at institutional and financial models which can be replicated throughout Nepal. While a system to reach 250 people costs £10,700, it has a 5 year payback and a 20 year lifespan making the investment highly worthwhile for poor rural communities.

iDE UK is at the forefront of developing new products and solutions that help poor rural communities respond to climate change. For more on our work in Nepal, click on the links:

Our new video on the MUS

iDE Nepal website

BBC documentary on similar systems in Nepal

What next? Please let us know what you would like to hear about in our blog. Click on the speech bubble icon at the top of this post to comment.


iDE UK Laying the Path to Entrepreneurship for Bangladeshi Farmers

How iDE Bangladesh’s Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) links farmers to new agricultural technologies and retailers.

Richard Rose with participants in Bangladesh

Richard Rose came to visit us at iDE UK in a whirlwind of news and progress from Bangladesh. He described the Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANEP) with well-founded pride and enthusiasm.  His team have been improving agriculture technology transfer systems for poor smallholder entrepreneurs, which has increased the production and marketing of nutritious foods.

The EU funded the project in partnership with iDE, three international centres from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – World Fish, CIMMYT, IRRI, Save the Children International and national partners in Bangladesh – CODEC – and Nepal  – BES and CEAPRED. ANEP seeks to sustainably raise agricultural productivity and promote effective market linkages to improve the nutrition of poor rural and urban households in the south of Bangladesh and the Nepal plains.

Food insecurity and malnourishment are major issues in Bangladesh and iDE are targeting the most vulnerable groups: pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. ANEP works with Save the Children to provide nutritional education about which foods to buy and how this impacts on the cognitive development of children. It then forges relationships between rural famers, the urban poor and agricultural industries.

To support the commercialization of small-holder agriculture ANEP hosts pre-season production planning meetings (PSPMs).  These bring buyers (output traders) and sellers of key agro-inputs such as seeds and fertilizers (inputs traders) together to plan production volumes, quality standards, schedule harvests, and aggregate produce.  The ANEP also invites market intermediaries to bring along new technologies and explain the benefits for farmers.  For example, a demonstration of how packaged maize seeds can provide a better yield than recycling seeds from last year’s crop.  Responding directly to the market’s needs in this way generates a much more reliable income, boosts business for agricultural technologies and the farmers get free training on how to increase production without using GM crops or harmful pesticides.  This enables farmers and the local private sector to benefit from greater security of sales and builds greater trust to work collaboratively together in the future.

After a good harvest it’s time for the ANEP food festivals.  These bring farmers to the slums to sell fresh produce to urban consumers with poor access to nutritious foods.  The ANEP always team think creatively about how to support local traders and strategies remain flexible in order to achieve the best outcomes.  This often involves learning quickly in the field.  In the case of the food festivals, the first of these was a traditional affair, with formal readings and attendance lists.  But this didn’t get the results the team wanted.  The festival needed to be more fun.   So the following day the ANEP team recruited entertainers to sing about health foods for urban consumers – a great success!  Women farmers came to sell their Indian Spinach, which was not sold locally, and each made the equivalent of $20 in just two hours.  For the next big event the team are considering live cooking classes and tasty food samples.

ANEP is benefitting 60,000 people in Bangladesh and Nepal.  After three years iDE will have completed their role in the project and will have facilitated relationships between the farmers, traders, and consumers which will continue in the future.


For a summary of Agrilinks Twitter chat on serving the poorest smallhold farmers:

For a video on iDE’s agricultural programs:

For more on our work in Bangladesh:

What next? Please let us know what you would like to hear about in our blog. Click on the speech bubble icon at the top of this post to comment.

Photo of the day: iDE UK in Nepal

As promised, we have another beautiful photograph (which was amazingly taken on an iPhone!) taken from when the two David’s were out visiting iDE UK projects in Nepal.

The project they were visiting is called the Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Project (ANE), which is currently based in Nepal. This project helps small holder farmers who lack access to agricultural technologies and markets, meaning they experience low productivity, food insecurity and high levels of poverty. iDE UK target these small holder farmers and work to sustainably improve their production and marketing of crops and nutritious foods. This not only leads to increased food security but ensures adequate nutrition levels and provides a sustainable income for the farmers!

By the end of this project in 2014, iDE UK aim to improve food security in 51,000 households and improve child nutrition in 16,000 households throughout rural Nepal.

Our programmes manager David Jackson has reported that the project is going brilliantly and is already showing how improved farming techniques are increasing productivity and income!


iDE UK in Nepal

This week we are looking at the farming techniques used by rural farmers with iDE UK in Nepal.


iDE UK are helping farmers optimise their land in Nepal

iDE UK has been working in Nepal since the early 90’s and the Nepal programme is now one of the largest within the iDE family.  Since establishment iDE Nepal has reached more than 170,000 poor farming families and achieved an average annual per family income increase of £125.

This photograph captures the challenging landscape rural farmers in Nepal are working on every day in order to grow their crops and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families. Here, we can see how terracing techniques can maximise the growing potential of this land. Although very effective, this method of farming is often difficult and labour intensive, with farmers working on plots of land as thin as one meter deep. However, these mountainous regions produce a number of profitable crops including Camomile oil, which sells for £200 – £240 a kilo, proving to be very a lucrative product for the farmers! With the help of iDE UK, these farmers are using innovative technologies and techniques in order to make the most out of the land they have around them to create sustainable livelihoods to help them out of poverty.

To find out more about iDE UK please visit our website at:

The two David’s in Nepal and Bangladesh for iDE UK

ImageOur programmes manager David Jackson is currently out in Nepal with our very gifted supporter and photographer David Graham, to check up on the projects over there. They will be reporting back with information and photographs as they go along to keep us all up to date with what is happening on the ground. Here is one of the first photos David Graham has sent to us from Nepal of one of the many women in Nepal that iDE UK is helping with sustainable business solutions.

Keep posted for more photos and information about their trip!

Photos will also be shown on the iDE UK Pinterest and Tumblr pages so why not take a look?



UK Minister Calls In On iDE Nepal

UK Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan MP recently attended a demonstration of affordable iDE micro-irrigation technologies at the British Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

MP Alan Duncan visits iDE Nepal for micro-irrigation demonstration at British Embassy

Describing the display as ‘excellent’ the MP was greeted by staff from iDE Nepal who briefed him on iDE’s Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) project.

MASF aims to increase sustainable incomes of 32,690 smallholder farmers in the Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Palpa, Gulmi, Syangja, Kaski,  Tanahu, Gorakha, Dhading, Bara, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari districts.

Implemented by iDE Nepal, the project is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID).

Distilling Profit: Increasing income through production of essential oils

iDE UK’s Chief Executive, Lewis Temple recently visited a new iDE assisted essential oil processing enterprise in Damsidole Forest, Lele Village, around one hour drive into the hills near Kathmandu. Here he reports back on how the local community have saved their forest and turned it to profit.

Lewis: Arriving at the distillery perched on a forested side of a mountain I was struck by a rather toothpaste like smell from the steam rising out of the small plant. Vijay Sthapit, iDE Nepal’s essential oil expert explained that this was wintergreen (gaultheria fragrantissima) – the forest plant they were distilling to extract the pure essential oil. Wintergreen (or an artificial alternative) is often used in toothpaste and chewing gum… hence the smell.

Essential oil distillery, Damsidole Forest, Nepal.

Vijay described the success that iDE has had in the plains of southern Nepal (or Terai) where seven years ago iDE introduced four small-scale essential oil distillation plants to assist the forest communities to diversify their incomes and earn money from protecting the forest – rather than cutting it down to make firewood.

The production of camomile, lemon grass and other valuable oils has been such as success here that many other rural entrepreneurs have got into the business and there are now over 100 distilleries in the Terai.  When I heard that camomile oil sells for the fabulous £200 – £240 a kilo, and they were already exporting to the USA I wasn’t surprised there had been so much interest in the business…

The project I visited today was a new version of the essential oil distillation plant specially designed for the hills of Nepal, being smaller and much easier to transport up the steep sides of mountains.

Farmer Sanu Rana, sorting her camomile seeds.

17 years ago the government handed over what used to be a forest to a forest users group from the local community to manage themselves.  At that time sadly the hills were bare as all the trees had been cut down for firewood.  The forest users group replanted the trees and now there is a beautiful mixed species forest – they carefully manage and only sell firewood that can be quickly replaced. They were proud to tell me that the forest is now so well established that tigers have moved back and they saw one just yesterday.

Production of Essential oil is the group’s latest business venture that will enable them to preserve their forest by earning a living from it.  The group use their profits to build roads, equip local schools and construct community meeting rooms.   They expect to generate £16 net profit a day from the distillery from wintergreen – but are also exploring more profitable oils.  We also met local farmer Sanu Rana who is starting to grow camomile for the distillery – which could net the enterprise over £90 a day.

As we wound our way back down the tortuous mountain roads I discussed enthusiastically with Vijay this emerging business, that shows great potential of enabling mountain communities in Nepal to profit from protecting their forest – rather than destroying it.

iDE – an ‘essential’ ingredient to rural prosperity!