WaterHavest begins crowdfunding
Can you help us in our first crowdfunding campaign?
Crowdfunding first came to many people’s attention during Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. Through his grassroots campaign, Obama reached out to everyday Americans who then donated ‘small’ amounts of $10 or $20. Since then, communities around the world have raised significant sums for projects close to their hearts. Crowdfunding engages and empowers people to get involved in causes that they believe in and, at WaterHarvest, we have just launched our first crowdfunding campaign to provide 18 farmers with a drip irrigation system to lift them and their families out of poverty. We are aiming to raise £3,774 by 30th March. Can you help us?
Farmers stuck in an endless cycle of poverty
Many farmers in Rajasthan are currently stuck in a cycle of poverty that they just can’t break – even though it is often only just out of their reach. Without funds to invest in more sophisticated irrigation systems, they rely on flood irrigation to water their crops. This leads to low crop yields and also to a lot of weeds. As a result, they (typically the women and girls) spend a lot of time weeding, leaving little time for anything else. The crops yields are low and, therefore, incomes are low. As a result, many men leave to try and find work in towns and cities, splitting up the family unit. Without sufficient funds for basic needs, families can remain trapped in poverty with little hope of escaping.
A simple but effective solution
Drip irrigation provides a simple but effective solution. A system costs around £400, and involves a rubber tube running along the line of crops. At the base of each crop, a small hole is made in the rubber tube; this hole lets out just a few drops of water (depending on the crop) to ensure that just enough water is used and none is wasted. The soil between the crops is not watered, so weeds struggle to survive. Not only does drip irrigation significantly reduce the amount of water needed, but it also reduces the amount of time a farmer needs to spend tending to the crops.
Just a small helping hand
Just a small investment can help a farmer break free from this cycle of poverty – and they only need to be lent the money. This is not a handout. Once the farmer’s income has risen, they can pay back the cost of the irrigation system; our recent pilot saw overall incomes increase – in one case by 400% – whilst nearly half the farmers increased their amount of irrigated land by four times. These funds can then be lent onto another farmer in the programme. In addition, some funds are needed to train farmers in using drip irrigation. This in-depth training includes lectures, visits to see other farmers close by who have successfully switched to drip irrigation as well as dedicated field workers showing them how to use the system. For every pound donated, around 75p is repaid whilst the remaining 25p is spent on training and lectures.
Reaching the tipping point
Our crowdfunding campaign aims to provide 18 farmers with a drip irrigation system, but the potential impact is much more wide-reaching. Using drip irrigation is a big change for many farmers and those in our programme will be pioneers in their local communities. Once other farmers see the benefits, they will also be keen to invest in their own drip irrigation system. Soon the early adopters will be able to teach and mentor the newer farmers – without the need for WaterHarvest and its field partner, MSS – and the tipping point will be reached when most farmers are using drip irrigation. So, although this is a small programme, the potential impact for creating sustainable change is huge.
Can crowdfunding help?
Crowdfunding works when the campaign ‘goes viral’. The famous Movember campaign, the ice bucket challenge and the #nomakeupselfie are all great examples of charity campaigns that have gone viral and helped to raise funds for their causes. If people share our blogs and posts with their friends and families (via email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) we can reach potential new supporters, to tell them about the work we are doing and the funds we are trying to raise.
Can you spread the word and help us? Our crowdfunding campaign is on the GlobalGiving platform, at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-18-farmers-irrigation-for-life/#menu.
This week’s blog was written by Nicola Floyd. Nicola is currently interim CEO and a trustee of WaterHarvest. She lives in Wiltshire in the UK. Prior to working in the development sector, she worked in investment banking in Hong Kong, New York, Bangkok and London.
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