Futurepump: more than a solar pump manufacturer

We are a business with sustainability at its core

Over the past few weeks, the collective protests around the world bringing more attention to the urgent need for climate action, has really brought home to us our wider mission at Futurepump. Through our work to introduce solar powered irrigation to smallholder farmers we are attempting something more than just sustainable irrigation. We are trying to be a business with sustainability at the core of all we do.

You may have already seen that we had employees in multiple countries attending peaceful protest for the Global Climate Strike. I personally attended the protest in Edinburgh, Scotland, where more than twice as many people than expected took to the streets to be heard. I was blown away by the passion and commitment of everyone there, as well as getting similar updates from my colleagues in Nairobi, Kisumu, Norwich, and London, this truly is a global movement!

The decision to shut our offices (and website!) and go on strike was an easy one, the time is now to change ‘business as usual’ ways that are unsustainable and polluting.

Experiencing climate change first hand

Climate change has been a known issue for decades, and it doesn’t take long today to realise the impacts and need for action. Every day in the news we see reports from global organisations and experts telling us we need to keep warming below 1.5⁰C and that we have just 11 years to do this (12 years when the UN reported this last year). Each day in our work we see first-hand smallholder farmers impacted by disrupted growing seasons and increasingly erratic weather patterns.

Dried up water pan
Dried up water pan we saw on a visit to Peter’s farm, a Futurepump SF2 farmer near Nakuru, Kenya

Just look at the impacts of the severe drought in Zimbabwe this year, where in August they declared a ‘state of national disaster’ and this was after being hit by Cyclone Idai in March. A cyclone which also had devastating impacts in neighbouring countries Malawi and particularly Mozambique. All these events have been made worse and more likely by climate change.

It is not just in Eastern Africa, this year Mexico saw hail storms leaving 5ft of hail on the ground. India has had severe rainfall, widespread flooding and drought in different areas all at the same time. In Papua New Guinea (and across the world), low-lying islands have seen increased flooding from storms and sea-level rise.

Businesses have an important role to play

Futurepump works across the tropics, in many countries already impacted by climate change and we have plans to work in many more. We are therefore acutely aware that businesses such as ours have an important role to play in the war against climate change. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer acceptable. Can we prove that a business can be both profitable and sustainable?

Futurepump work in Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, India and Mexico
Clockwise from top left: (1) A Futurepump solar pump in Mozambique (2) Demo of the Futurepump SF2 with our distributor in Papua New Guinea (3) The Futurepump SF2 at an Expo in Mexico (4) Our factory in India

We are certainly not saying we have the answers – there is a lot of work to do. But there is hope and a lot that can be done. These fantastic global protests show there has never been a stronger will and want to do this work to limit climate change. We’ve been doing this work with our solar water pumps for the past 6+ years and have seen a lot of others from organisations down to communities and individuals working to improve our environment.

Now is the time to build on this and get off fossil fuels and find new and more sustainable practices in agriculture and across society.

Josephine setting up her Futurepump SF2
The Futurepump SF2 solar pump being used to irrigate crops and sell water to neighbouring farms during the early dry season in Kenya, 2019

And this is at the heart of all that we do. We make solar water pumps that are truly helpful for farmers and that will provide them benefits for years to come, not just in this year’s profits for our business.

We want our solar pumps for irrigation to replace dirty fossil fuel pumps, make farmers more resilient to increasingly unpredictable growing seasons and provide sustainable access to irrigation to improve crops and harvests.