BENEFITING: ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS USA INC
EVENT DATE: Aug 13, 2011
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa suffers from a 39.1% HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, much higher than the 29% national average. Elderly grandmothers (ngogos) are left behind with the primary responsibility of caring for orphans and vulnerable children of afflicted parents.
To support the children, the ngogos practice subsistence agriculture. They experience great physical strains from manually carrying water from nearby streams to their gardens which takes time away from other daily activities, such as educating the children.
Our team, Engineers Without Borders-Johns Hopkins University-South Africa, works with rural communities in South Africa to provide in-field irrigation to community gardens via locally made ram pump systems. Ram pumps use energy from streams to pump a constant water supply up to the garden site, saving the gardeners both time and energy. Another aspect of our project is to partner with a local high-school level training institute, Zakhe Agricultural College, to teach people to plan, build, and install the irrigation systems. They are working with us to train locals on how to expand the gardens with installed systems. Our group has already installed over a dozen ram pumps in various community gardens, most of which are tended for by 10-20 women who support at-risk children. We hope to empower Zakhe Agricultural College to develop a self-sustaining outreach program that sells sustainable technology to middle-income farmers as a means of subsidizing systems for community gardens.