Getting out in the field is vital for those that work in conservation. Here at Peace Parks Foundation, field trips like this one to communities in Zambia, give the team a taster of what it is actually like to work for your water. Lésa takes a turn on the treadle pump and finds out it is a lot harder than it looks.
A treadle pump is a human-powered suction pump that is used for irrigation. It is designed to lift water from a depth of seven metres or less. This simple piece of kit is life-changing for communities, enabling farmers to shift water from nearby water sources to irrigate their crops all year round and survive the effects of droughts. This simple piece of kit transforms women’s lives in particular. Instead of hauling heavy containers of water every day, the basic, if heart-pumping, action of a treadle pump can carry water along from a pan or river into their hoses. It makes watering the crops much easier as well as being time-saving.
Importantly, the use of treadle pumps along with other tools used in agriculture conservation leads to higher crop yields. This means that farmers have food on the dinner table, as well as extra produce to sell at the markets which leads to a higher disposable income for families. The extra earnings are often put into children’s education. So, what seems like a small shift – a treadle pump being donated – actually leads to huge shifts in lifestyle, enhancing food security within the region as well as supporting livelihood development.
Treadle pumps are just one element of highly effective conservation agriculture methods that are helping smallholders to shift from surviving to thriving. People living in the Simalaha Community Conservancy in western Zambia will be able, over time, to rise out of poverty through successful take-up of innovative conservation-friendly farming methods. The hope for Peace Parks and partners is to use conservation as a change agent to stimulate longterm, sustainable economic development for areas such as this one.