Low cost drip irrigation in Zambia: gendered practices of promotion and use

G.J.A. Veldwisch, V. Borsboom, F.J.M. Ingen-Housz, M.Z. Zwarteveen, N.C. Post Uiterweer, P.G.M. Hebinck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the face of increasing global population, water scarcity and the need to tackle poverty in developing countries, various projects and organisations have promoted low-cost irrigation technologies for smallholder farmers. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) International Development Enterprises (iDE) is one well-known organisation that took up the challenge to re-engineer conventional irrigation technologies with the explicit objective to meet the needs of smallholder farmers. iDE perceives low-cost irrigation technologies for individual smallholder farmers as a potential solution to rural hunger and poverty. With these goals in mind, iDE started the Rural Prosperity Initiative (RPI), implemented in Myanmar, Nepal, Ethiopia and Zambia, financed by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Re-design criteria for the irrigation technologies are low investment cost, rapid returns on investment, suitability for various small plots, and simple operation and maintenance (Postel et al., 2001; Keller, 2004; Polak et al., 2007). Technologies developed include low-cost plastic tanks for collecting and storing rainwater, pressure and suction treadle pumps for lifting water, low pressure sprinklers as well as drip emitters for efficient water application. Moving away from the traditional practice of simply ‘handing-out’ technological innovation to farmers, iDE operates with a market-based or business approach. The idea is to support farmers so that they can invest in and craft their own way out of poverty by increasing crop productivity and income from marketable surpluses. In this idea, the rural smallholder figures as a (potential) entrepreneur, producer and customer, rather than as a beneficiary and recipient of aid.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrip Irrigation for agriculture
Subtitle of host publicationUntold Stories of Efficiency, Innovation and Development
EditorsJean-Philippe Venot, Marcel Kuper, Margreet Zwarteveen
ISBN (Print)9781138687073
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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