The solar revolution and the importance of reinvention
The use of solar power in developing countries, like Kenya, is a hot topic. With this, the list of solar products offered is ever expanding. Now it’s not only solar lamps, chargers and street lights that are available, but also solar for agriculture! As a Young Expert (YEP) for Futurepump/PRACTICA I am at the heart of this development. We are introducing a new product, a solar water pump for small scale farmers, in Kenya. As the Customer Data Analyst, I am mostly involved in the collection of user data to improve our product, further develop the company and report to donors, like the US Government. During my educational career, I have gained experience in collecting impact data to understand if predicted improvements in an invention actually occurs. In my work with Futurepump, I am able to take this to another level. As a start-up company there are plenty of opportunities to try different methods and find out what works best for us and our customers.
Rose Akinyi using her pump in Opapo, photo credit GVEP
What really excites me is the speed at which the feedback that comes from the field is translated into alterations in the pump design; for example, parts to retro-fit, change in the next batch of pumps or adopted into ideas for future versions. The cage around the pump is a good example. We received feedback that the pump was not always stable and could be knocked over by people or livestock. The cage was added around the pump to give it more stability and it made the pump even easier to carry as well.
We take challenges and turn them into solutions. As a result, we have a robust product that ensures small scale farmers can irrigate their crops; from tomatoes to kales, and from beans to bananas. However, the job is never complete, working closely with our customers and learning directly from their experiences and practices, we get new ideas for evolving the product.
We have even found new markets for our solar water pump that we had not imagined. For example, filling fish ponds, feeding livestock or providing Eco-resorts with water. In this fast paced world, a world of constant reinvention, I have learnt to always keep an open mind. It is only by actively taking on board the feedback from our customers that we stay at the forefront of this technology.
I am happy to be a part of the network of Young Expert Programmes (YEP), where I can share my passion for sustainable energy with my fellow Young Experts around the world!
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