It’s time to invest in women farmers!

lewisLewis Temple, Chief Executive of iDE UK has just taken part in a radio discussion panel for Voice of Russia to debate the role of women farmers in Africa in poverty alleviation and economic growth. He thinks it’s time to invest in women farmers! Why not have a listen?

listen now

To listen to the broadcast on Voice of Russia click on the picture.

Here are some of the key points Lewis made:

“The United Nations has calculated that one dollar invested in a woman farmer achieves the equivalent of eleven dollars invested in a male farmer, in terms of the benefits for nutrition and health for the children in that family. So, you can see if you want to get your bang for the buck, it makes good economic sense to invest in women farmers. The experience is that in the aid business, the aid industry, investment in women farmers has been sadly lacking. Only something in the region of 10% of agriculture investment through aid is directed towards women farmers. So something’s gone wrong there. We [iDE] are part of the global coalition called Farming First, which is strongly pushing for increased investment into women farmers.”

“At iDE we work a lot to introduce smallholder farmers into horticultural production to grow fruit and vegetables for the local market. Often that’s a kind of production system that is particularly suited to balancing the responsibilities of women with their families, with also producing produce for the market and selling. This is essential to give them a chance to increase their incomes. In our programme in Ethiopia we’ve seen an increase in income up to 300 dollars, as a result of moving to horticultural production of fruit and vegetables.”

“With the growing urban population in many African countries there’s increased demand for that kind of produce as people’s appetites become greater for fruit and vegetables. There is that market opportunity for them, and women farmers are often in the best place to be able to take advantage of that market opportunity.”

“The key message is – smallholder farmers and women in particular, are viable businesses. That to move from subsistence agriculture to growing for the market can have transformative impacts on incomes and the livelihoods of those farmers.”



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 Cambodia Celebrates Another Successful Year!

iDE Cambodia

Last month, Rachel Pringle stopped by our London office to tell us about the latest news and successes of iDE Cambodia.

Rachel joined iDE Cambodia in March 2012, and is thoroughly enjoying her time out there! Fortunately for us, she was able to drop by our London office during her time back in the UK for Christmas to give us a fascinating update on some of the amazing work happening out in Phnom Penh.

iDE Cambodia have had a wonderfully successful year, the big success story of the year was iDE Cambodia’s ceramic water filter enterprise Hydrologic winning an Ashden Award – a huge achievement which has benefited the project in numerous ways. As well as bringing in a variety of opportunities, support, networks and connections, Rachel and the team can now use their knowledge from Cambodia to work with partners to develop similar commercial operations around the world, helping with product development, commercial opportunities, technical support and sales models. In 2013, Hydrologic will also branch out to develop new products and services to improve safe water access in rural Cambodian schools.

We were delighted to hear that Hydrologic with support from Nexus Carbon for Development have had their first Voluntary Gold Standard carbon credits issued in December Two thirds of rural households in Cambodia use wood or charcoal to boil water before drinking. Although helpful for purifying water, this has a high environmental cost. Hydrologic ceramic water filters reduce the amount of wood burnt and bolster rural economic development. By displacing water boiling practices, Hydrologic helps households avoid burning over 18,000 tons of wood each year, saving more than 40,000 tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

Hydrologic was also a winner of an Impact Business Award in 2011, meaning Rachel was able to attend an Impact Business Forum event in Pretoria, South Africa where she was able to gather ideas and learn from other entrepreneurs.

Another aspect we were particularly interested in here at iDE UK was the Hydrologic microfinance scheme carried out in partnership with microfinance institution Visionfund, whereby customers purchasing ceramic water filters are given the opportunity to take out a loan to pay for the installation of the filter. This has proven extremely successful as the vast majority of customers opt to take the loan when available and to date 100% have repaid the loan within the given repayment period. Visionfund also partner with iDE Cambodia’s sanitation team to provide microloans to rural customers for latrines. In 2012, Rachel has been working to develop financing options, including partnerships with microfinance institutions and web-based microfinance platform KIVA for iDE Cambodia’s Farm Business Advisor (FBA) enterprise to enable farmers and FBA entrepreneurs to purchase agricultural inputs and equipment that will improve their yields and income.

iDE Cambodia’s innovation team i-Lab have also had a busy year –  the i-Lab facility develops products and services that challenge key issues for the rural poor in Cambodia. The i-Lab designs radically affordable, market-based solutions for the poor to help them take steps out of poverty on their own. They also work to build the capacities of other organisations so that they can more effectively innovate pro-poor solutions. The i-Lab has now secured a number of innovation projects in 2013 including in the areas of hand hygiene, and clean drinking water access.


We can’t wait to see what is in store for Cambodia in 2013!

Thanks for stopping by Rachel!


Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

iDE UK welcomes new gender programme officer!

Sarah will be working on improving gender equality throughout our development programmes.


Sarah: I’m delighted to re-join the iDE team after my stint as a Programmes Intern this summer, and to contribute to iDE UK’s learning and expertise in women in agriculture. This project ties in with our 2012 theme of gender, and will see iDE UK develop tools to identify and address women’s needs and constraints, and measure the impacts of our activities in the most effective and appropriate ways. This will ensure that women, as well as men, reap the maximum benefits from iDE’s activities and that we are able to document and monitor our outcomes for women, improving our overall learning.

I graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of Sussex in 2004, and have since worked and volunteered for a range of organisations both in the UK and abroad, leading to a broad interest in exploitation and human rights. While volunteering in Nepal in 2007, I became particularly interested in human trafficking and when I returned to the UK, joined the POPPY project as a volunteer research assistant and went on to several paid positions. On a slight tangent, I then moved to Rwanda for a year to work for the Ministry of Infrastructure, which was a great challenge. Upon my return in 2010, I started a Masters in Education, Gender and International development, while working part-time for a small charity focusing on human trafficking in India. Over the years, while retaining a primary focus on women, I have become increasingly interested in more practical, sustainable approaches to development and I am very much looking forward to putting these principles into practice!

Welcome to the team Sarah!

iDE UK creates business opportunities for Zambian farmers

iDE UK invests in small holder Zambian farmers to combat poverty and create win-win opportunities with local mining companies

We are very happy to announce that we have recently received approval to begin a brand new project in Zambia, which will bring iDE UK together with a local Zambian NGO called Nutri-aid Trust. The project will be based in the North-Western province, which is the poorest, most remote and least developed region of Zambia, with 61% of the population classified as ‘extremely poor’.

iDE UK will work towards developing the entrepreneurial skills of small holder farmers whilst introducing them to income generating opportunities and innovative technologies. This will include a number of micro-irrigation systems, such as the treadle pump. The project will also adopt iDE’s award winning Farm Business Advisor (FBA) approach, whereby local entrepreneurs are trained by iDE to encourage and equip farmers to grow market-oriented crops as well as advise farmers how to reduce risk, improve productivity, and increase income.

On top of this, a vital aspect of the project involves local mining companies in the area, who present a valuable retail opportunity for the local farmers and communities. These mining companies will benefit from the project as the farmers will provide food for their workers. This is not only environmentally friendly as large quantities of food are not being shipped in from other areas, but also creates large and profitable markets for the farmers to take advantage of. This win-win situation utilises the market to create business opportunities that not only helps the poor rural farmers out of poverty, but is environmentally friendly and creates a valuable opportunity for the mining companies.

Through this project we aim to help 3,500 households raise their incomes by $350, creating new markets and drawing farmers out of poverty in the long-term.

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: