The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has been operating in India since 1983. It has received the Times of India Social Impact Award for ensuring access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for more than 350,000 people in Bihar and Gujarat.
In Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, 80% of inhabitants live in rural areas. Farmers need a source of irrigation that is more reliable than the monsoon and more affordable than diesel-powered pumps. With up to 300 sunny days a year in the state, solar water pumping systems offer a cost-effective alternative. However, despite being cheaper in the long term, solar systems have high upfront costs. As an affordable and sustainable solution, AKRSP brought together smallholder farmers, so that the cost and maintenance of solar irrigation could be shared. With this system in place now, farmers achieve higher crop yields at lower costs, food security is ensured, net incomes are increased and risks of crop failure are reduced. Water is also pumped into the village as a reliable source of drinking water for schools and homes. To learn more about the AKRSP solar irrigation project in Bihar, watch this video “Harvesting the Sun”: