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For millions of poor farm families in sub-Saharan Africa, access to water makes the difference between hunger and a full belly, between a well-nourished child and one stunted by malnutrition, and between a productive livelihood and one mired in poverty. For many, the long dry season is a trying time of one meal a day.…
A spontaneous, largely under-the-radar blue revolution is gaining steam in sub-Saharan Africa and has the potential to boost food security and incomes for tens of millions of the region’s poorest inhabitants.
Small-scale irrigation techniques with simple buckets, affordable pumps, drip lines, and other equipment are enabling farm families to weather dry seasons, raise yields, diversify their crops, and lift themselves out of poverty.
But unless African governments and foreign interests lend support to these farmer-driven initiatives, rather than undermine them through land and water deals that benefit large-scale, commercial schemes, the best opportunity in decades for societal advancement in the region will be squandered.
One of the more transformative technologies ever developed for the world’s poor farmers is a water-lifting device called a treadle pump. It looks and operates much like a Stairmaster exercise machine that you’d find in a gym. But the dollar-a-day farmers who use these devices are not trying to lose pounds; they’re trying to…