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Economic Growth With Sustainability

Sustained rural prosperity creation demands that interventions be environmentally sustainable and economically viable. iDE understands the linkage between poverty and the environment, and we design projects that fit within sustainable natural resource limits.

Mitigating Climate Change

Climate change threatens the survival of many of the world's poorest citizens. They rely on low-input, rain-fed, small-scale agriculture to meet their basic food consumption needs. Rainfall variability is increasing, making it difficult for smallholder farmers to maximize crop yields or to determine optimal planting times. Floods erode top soils, carrying away nutrients and recently planted seedlings. Droughts and water shortages drastically reduce yields. Farmers in coastal areas face greater storm destruction from rising sea levels. The International Fund for Agricultural Development predicts that climate change could put an additional 63 million people at risk of hunger by 2020.

Understanding what a devastating and complex problem climate change represents, IDE follows practices which mitigate its negative effects.

  1. iDE increases smallholder capacity to adapt to climate change by improving the availability of affordable micro irrigation technologies and by increasing access to market opportunities.
  2. iDE carefully designs interventions that benefit, rather than harm, the environment.

Mitigating Climate Change, continued

To ensure that program interventions do not deplete ground water, pollute the water table, or emit large amounts of carbon, IDE uses GIS-based natural resource analyses and boundary definition tools for project design, and applies environmental impact assessments to identify and implement measures that ameliorate environmental risks.

Under the Rural Prosperity Initiative—a multi-country, multi-million dollar program, funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch government—IDE has developed an environmental assessment (EA) tool to determine the potential position and negative environmental impacts of proposed activities. The tool is easy to use and serves as a collection point for all EA data, which will be analyzed to gain a better understanding of environmental trends by project type and location.

Promoting Environmental Stewardship

IDE designs technologies that use renewable energy to efficiently pump water. IDE's rope and treadle pumps are manually operated, requiring no carbon-based fuels.

Recognizing that farmers often need motorized pumps to irrigate larger plots efficiently, IDE is exploring pump options that use renewable energy. Solar thermal is a promising choice for replacing petroleum in mechanized pumps. IDE's technology center has tested prototypes and confirmed that the concept is technically feasible. The team is presently testing market acceptance.

Recognizing that access to technology alone is not sufficient, IDE also trains farmers on technology use and proper water scheduling and application. Drip irrigation is particularly effective in ensuring "more crop per drop."