12 May 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Update from Nepal


Nepal was still in a state of fear and disorganization as the government works to distribute aid and mend when an additional earthquake shook the country on May 12, 2015. iDE is thankful to report, once again, that no staff members were hurt during this most recent event.

“People are really terrorized, it was just starting to feel a little normal, now people are again afraid to go in their homes, offices, most people are sleeping and staying outside,”  said Luke Colavito, iDE Nepal Country Director.

Colavito was driving to pick up his son when he felt the ground shake and saw the new damage. “This aftershock was very bad, many damaged buildings have collapsed and new buildings are damaged.” As his mind shifts to those outside of Kathmandu, he says, “I’m afraid that in the rural areas it will have brought down many more of the already damaged mud brick homes that poor farmers live in. These farmers will have lost their possessions and stored food. It’s a tremendous setback.”

Even before the second earthquake, Colavito was thinking ahead and planning an agricultural recovery support program and rapid latrine installation to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases.

“Right now people are in shock and aren’t able to focus on the need to begin planting,” says Luke. The iDE Nepal team is establishing nurseries to grow seedlings so in a month, after people start to recover, they will not have missed out on a prime growing season.

The iDE Nepal team remains dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest of the poor who live in remote corners of the country. In the coming months, as Nepal looks to rebuild and regain some normalcy, iDE’s work will be of paramount importance and influence.

Join us in helping more families get back on their feet with agricultural recovery support.




30 April 2015 | Posted By: iDE

A Bad Luck/Good Luck Story


By Bob Nanes
Tanke Village, Nepal

Saturday, April 25th started in Tanke village in the hills of Central Nepal  just like any other day. The sounds of barnyard animals, people stirring, clearing their throats. The sunlight reflected off the irrigated rice paddies on the valley floor. Some people began to move out to some of the nearby fields to do some casual weeding and other field tasks. But Saturday was often a day with little activity.  For those families who were lucky enough to have a TV, they would often sit with several families inside and watch their favorite TV dramas or variety shows.

But on this Saturday, the electricity went off some time in the morning. Bad luck, there would be no family TV time today. So people went about other tasks. The women of the village headed off together to the nearby forest to gather fodder and firewood. The men gathered in the village center for a group meeting. And the children played with their friends around the houses and in the fields.

But just before noon, the largest earthquake in the last 80 years struck Nepal and shook the village violently. Most of the mud houses in the village collapsed completely. Bad luck. In the aftermath, as people rushed back to their houses and to find their family members, there was chaos and tragedy. A four year old child was dead, crushed inside a house. Some of the livestock was also dead, crushed by tumbling walls. But the bad luck electricity cut of earlier in the day turned out to be amazing good luck. What could have caused dozens, or even hundreds of deaths, caused only the one, as tragic as it is.

IDE Nepal has been working in Tanke village for several years. In collaboration with the community and local government, they supported the building of a solar powered multiple use water system that lifts water from the valley floor, and distributes it for household use and also feeds into drip irrigation systems to produce vegetables for sale. IDE staff had been in contact with the villagers after the quake and been informed about the scope of the tragedy. With the support of offices and private donors in the US, Canada and the UK, IDE had mobilized to deliver food and plastic shelter material to Tanke village.

When we entered the village, the destruction was unbelievable. What had been a lively collection of houses along a scenic ridge in central Nepal, was now a scene of utter devastation. Most of the houses had collapsed, and everyone was living in slapdash tents made of small pieces of plastic stuck together as well as possible. Nobody, even those whose houses had not collapsed, were sleeping inside because of the frequent aftershocks.

But surprisingly, the mood was not morose. People were going about their tasks as if this was just another day. We were greeted in the normal friendly manner of Nepali farm folk. People were happy to talk to us and tell us their stories. There was no trace of self-pity.  Perhaps their normally difficult life had prepared them for the current and future hardships. Would we be so adaptable in the same situation?  I think not.

So now the long slow process of bringing life back to normal begins. The villagers are not short on food, but were in desperate need of safe and dry shelter. The plastic tarps that we brought were the most important thing to them. But how will they move forward in re-building their lives? I imagine that living in tents will become the new norm for months, or possibly years to come.

Life is so precious. It is hard to believe sometimes that the difference between life and death can be determined by something as random as a power outage, or where you stand while viewing the Boston Marathon, or which flight you decide to take while flying from Spain to Germany. But that is the case, and sometimes no matter how we plan or watch or protect, life can stay or go through a simple twist of fate.


Help iDE Nepal reach more remote villages with food and shelter. Donate here.

Bob Nanes was formerly the head of the Technology and Innovation Group in the Denver Headquarters of iDE. He was in charge of supporting the iDE country programs in technology development, agriculture program development, global equipment supply, agriculture knowledge management and micro finance. In his 24 years with iDE he also worked as Country Director in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Ghana and as the Director of Training. He also started and ran an irrigation contracting business and a food processing business. He is currently a consultant to iDE. He has his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University.


28 April 2015 | Posted By: iDE

A Message From Day 4


Photo: Adam Salberg, iDE
Written by Bob Nanes

It is now more than 72 hours after the initial powerful earthquake. 72 hours is the number given by many relief agencies during which significant aftershocks are likely to occur. There was one small aftershock yesterday (Monday) at around 5pm, but nothing since then. People are starting to re-enter houses that are not damaged. Those with damaged or destroyed houses are in a different situation. We are lucky that it is not raining today so far, but it has been raining on and off for the last few days. People sleeping outside need tarps or tents in order to stay dry, and it is likely that many are still not having a good night’s sleep. As one person said to me yesterday, sleep deprivation is the most effective form of torture.

It is difficult for me to imagine what will happen to those whose houses are destroyed. For most people, building a house is the investment of a lifetime, often borrowing money to do so. Very few people have insurance, so what will they do now? Will the government help those people? Can anyone even afford to help those people? Nobody knows. People will have to rent in the mean time, but with many houses in the valley damaged or destroyed, it is likely that it will also be difficult to find reasonable accommodation.

It is estimated by the New York Times that the average person knows about 600 people. In a valley of about 2 million with perhaps 3-4,000 people dead, and many more injured, everyone knows someone who was killed, and certainly knows many who were injured. Everyone knows many people who have lost their homes. The initial period of just surviving is now over for most, and the shock will soon set in about the scope of this tragedy. As with most things in life, seeing it on television is not even in the same realm as those who are experiencing it first hand. This is not the first tragedy of this kind, but it is the first that I have experienced personally, and it will leave a mark forever.

Beyond the human dimension, there is another tragic aspect to this earthquake. To the many who have visited or lived in the Kathmandu valley, the cultural landmarks are something very special. This valley, made up of the three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, have a unique cultural heritage reflected in the many Hindu temples and Bhuddist stupas, the unique architecture, and the fine tradition of handicrafts. One person once remarked to me that it is said that Kathmandu has more temples than houses, and more gods than people. This may be a slight exaggeration, but it is not far from true. For those of us who have been awed by walking through the old city of Bhaktapur, seeing the fine details of the temples in Patan Durbar Square, or watching Tibetans and Newars circumambulating the thousand year old stupas at Shwayambunath, the loss of many of these treasures is also a great tragedy. It is impossible to describe in words even one of these world heritage sites, much less imagine how they will be re-built.

On the positive side, these tragedies can bring out the best in people, and can even bring people together. I myself got to know very well the formerly anonymous co-habiters at the hotels in which I have holed up. Yesterday one of my colleagues mentioned how his neighbors have been gathering together each evening, telling stories and jokes. The pictures from the first days show ordinary citizens doing the impossible by removing tons of bricks from collapsed buildings.

Jai Nepal!


Help iDE Nepal reach more remote villages with food and shelter. Donate here.

Bob Nanes was formerly the head of the Technology and Innovation Group in the Denver Headquarters of iDE. He was in charge of supporting the iDE country programs in technology development, agriculture program development, global equipment supply, agriculture knowledge management and micro finance. In his 24 years with iDE he also worked as Country Director in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Ghana and as the Director of Training. He also started and ran an irrigation contracting business and a food processing business. He is currently a consultant to iDE. He has his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University.

| Posted By: iDE

The First to Reach Ranagaun

DSC_0191 r1

Photo: Bimala Colavito, iDE

On Tuesday, volunteer Bimala Colavito accompanied the iDE Nepal team members to the village of Ranagaun, about at 45-minute drive up slippery mountainous roads. Three days after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit, she found these roads to be unusually quiet. On the way, she noticed collapsed houses that had washed away down muddy hillsides. She saw deep cracks in roads and buildings, plenty of destruction, but mostly the sad faces of people who are trying to figure out what to do next.

She had visited this USAID Innovation Lab site many times before to interview farmers in the agriculture program. On this day, she saw familiar faces, friends with whom iDE Nepal has worked with over the years who had just lost their homes over the weekend.

The purpose of the visit was to provide a week of food for this community of 38 households, chlorine for clean water, and plastic sheeting for temporary shelter. The iDE Nepal team delivered noodles, rice and dalmut, a spicy mixture of dried peas and beans. Thankfully, water now flows from their tap after being dry for the past couple days.

Despite being situated fairly close to Kathmandu, this was the first assistance this village had received. Many families are sleeping outside in cold temperatures. The next village on the team’s list is Kavre, where there are even more people and the need is even greater.

There are many villages like these that are in need of food, water and shelter. The iDE Nepal team is hoping to reach more of them, if funds are available to do so.

iDE Nepal is dedicated to improving agriculture and providing water and sanitation systems to poor rural farmers. iDE has deep roots in Nepal, where it has worked for 23 years. The organization has particularly strong connections with the poorest of the poor who live in remote corners of the country, where life is normally difficult, and now even harder.

If you would like to help the iDE Nepal team reach more villages in need, please visit ideorg.org to donate.

| Posted By: iDE

I am the lucky one.

Patan Durbar Square  Tamaple

Hello all,  It is 6:18 am in Kathmandu.  I will start out by saying that until now, I am in a very good shape from all aspects…certainly compared to most.  By luck, I have managed to be in the right place at the right time during this whole episode.

Yesterday, Saturday I was meant to have lunch with the family of my old friend and colleague Shanta Tamang who I worked with for over 10 years in Nepal.  At about 11:30 I called her and she said I should come any time.  I got ready quickly and left the Summit Hotel, where I have been staying, at about 10 minutes before 12 in a taxi.  It was Saturday, so there was little traffic, and we soon arrived in the center of town.  As we were passing a noted landmark in town which used to be called the Bhimsen Tower (now has a new name appropriate to the Republic) I looked up and noticed that there was now an enclosed walkway on the top like a viewing deck, enclosed as in a cage, full of people enjoying a Saturday outing.

We continued on for less than a minute, and when we entered an area between many large buildings, suddenly we saw people rushing out of the tall building next to us.  Up to this point I did not feel anything in the car which would be more noticeable than the normal bumpiness of Kathmandu roads.  But the people were in a panic, pushing and shoving, people falling.  Among them was a policeman, and my first thought was that the policeman was chasing people and I wondered why.  Then people started coming out from all sides, and my taxi driver jumped out of the car.  It was about this time that I realized that there was an earthquake.  I also got out of the car.  There was an old Nepali style brick house tucked in among the bigger buildings, and the whole side of the house fell down onto the sidewalk near where we were stopped.

This earthquake lasted a long time…I have seen estimates of 1-3 minutes.  Also the Kathmandu valley is a big bowl of mud that acts like a kind of bowl of jello and even magnifies the shaking.  We were standing in the middle of the road, and the closest thing I can use to describe it is the feeling of surfing or skiing.  The valley was shaking back and forth and back and forth, kind of felt like it was swinging.  Eventually it stopped, and there was total panic in the street.  People crying and shouting, running this way and that.  But luckily, not a single one of the other buildings fell, or we all would have been in trouble.

Suddenly I saw someone (a foreigner) pulling bricks up from the house that had fallen onto the sidewalk.  I went to him and he said that he saw the wall fall on a woman.  I began to help him pull up the bricks, and then other people began to help.  Then a man came out of the house and said that there was nobody under there.  Everyone stopped digging, I looked for the first guy and he was gone.  I was standing there alone not knowing what to do.  I couldn’t dig by myself, but I still thought there might be a woman there.  I saw a policeman in the distance and went to tell him, but by the time I got through the crowd, he was gone.  Back at the car, the driver wanted to leave quckly and go check on his family.  I went with him, but the thought that there might be someone under those bricks, and I was the only one who knew, still haunts me.

Also as we drove back out of town, I looked up and the tower was gone.  That is another haunting image in my mind, those families inside that cage whom I noticed, and a minute later fell 60 meters to their death.

We made our way back to the Summit Hotel, slowly and with a lot of detours and backing up down one way streets.  There was chaos in the streets.  We drove for about 20 minutes, and I only saw one other collapsed building, but a lot of cracking of the streets, and cracking of buildings.  I felt at this point that the damage was not too bad, based on what I saw on the way back.  I arrived back at the hotel, and there too, it was kind of chaos.  There had been a celebration in the garden for Dutch national day, and there were people siting on the ground in groups, lots of crying women and children.  Half the water in the swimming pool had been flung out of the pool in something like a tsunami and had washed a whole group of people including children under some tables and into the bushes.  Everyone was alright, but the fear in the air was palpable.

That was when the first after shock hit.

It was pretty big (6.6) and people freaked.  That stopped, and it gave me a chance to look around.  All the hotel buildings were intact, with no cracking.  Two boundary walls had fallen down completely and there was a bit of heaving in some of the sidewalks, but other than that, there was no damage whatsoever.  Also the garden is big enough that you can get away from the buildings, so I felt very safe and even helped to calm some people down and say that everything was safe. Things calmed down a bit, but very slowly.  Nobody knew what to do or where to go.  The calm ones knew just to stay put, and that where we were was probably one of the safest places to be.  Slowly, over time, people who were just visitors began to filter out to go home.  Those of us staying at the hotel, still kind of wandered around aimlessly.

Since then there has been an aftershock probably about once every hour.  Of course after the first few, people were still panicking, but eventually, you just kind of get used to it.  The hotel staff at some point, pulled themselves together, got the generator going, and set up an outdoor kitchen.  They prepared a fantastic dinner which we ate outside, many of us commenting on how blessed we were, and how surrealistic it was to have a beautiful barbecue in the midst of all this.

Slowly we began to get some news of what was happening elsewhere. The 3 Durbar Squares, the center of the old cities of the Kathmandu valley, and each one an amazing World Heritage site, were severely damaged.  The tower had indeed fallen down.  The Shwayambu temple complex lost a couple of stupas.  The top of the Boudhanat Stupa fell down.  In the center of the old part of the city, just north of where I had been during the quake, was severely damaged and a lot of buildings had fallen down.  The airport was closed. Many of the Kathmandu Valley’s great treasures were damaged or destroyed.

Soon it was time to make the decision about where to sleep.

There were lots of people now coming in from outside looking for a safe place to be.  One Dutch gentleman and his son asked me if I could give them any warm clothes.  Their hotel in the old city of Patan was damaged and they could not get back inside.  They had only short sleeved shirts and it was getting cold on this cloudy day and the hotel staff seemed not to want to give them blankets.  I gave them the quilt and bedspread off my extra twin bed, and that seemed to set them up for the night.

Many people did not want to go back inside the buildings at least for any length of time.  I knew that in this cold, I would not sleep a bit if I stayed outside.  I did a careful inspection of my building, and saw not a hint of damage.  I decided to sleep in my room.  I fell asleep about 9pm after an exhausting day.  It wasn’t a great sleep.  I woke up for every aftershock, but managed to get about 4 hours of sleep until I finally gave up about 1am.  It is now morning, and there is electricity and water and internet, but no phone service.  I took a shower and shaved this morning, and so for me, with all the food I need, a warm bed, a shower and toilet, I am the lucky one.

At this point I am sure I am safe and will be fine.  What I will do now, how I will continue my work here and where I will go, and when I will leave Nepal…these are all open questions.

I send my love to all of you,



Your donations will help the iDE Nepal team reach communities in immediate need of food and shelter. 

Bob Nanes was formerly the head of the Technology and Innovation Group in the Denver Headquarters of iDE. He was in charge of supporting the iDE country programs in technology development, agriculture program development, global equipment supply, agriculture knowledge management and micro finance. In his 24 years with iDE he also worked as Country Director in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Ghana and as the Director of Training. He also started and ran an irrigation contracting business and a food processing business. He is currently a consultant to iDE. He has his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University.

6 April 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Noelle’s Red Dirt Brings in the Green



Imagine standing on Noelle’s farm with her at your side.  She starts her day before sunrise.  She is ready to face another long, sweltering day working on her farm.  Her crops depend on the water she brings them to survive; her family depends on her.

You look down at your feet you notice a thin layer of red dust on your shoes.  As your gaze moves to the horizon you see a dry field of red dirt and Noelle’s clay covered house in the distance.  And you see her most prized possession – rows of precisely ordered zucchini plants.  Looking closer, you see a drip irrigation system that is delivering to her crop just the right amount of water.

Speaking in French, Noelle says she first saw drip irrigation at an iDE demonstration farm over 18 months ago.  It was in that moment she decided to buy a system for herself. She started working with one of iDE’s local Farm Business Advisors who helped her to set up her drip irrigation system, plant and harvest her zucchini crop, and find a buyer in the local market.  As one of the only farmers growing zucchini during the dry season, she is thrilled to receive the highest price possible for her crops. In just one harvest Noelle’s income went up more than $500, three times as much as she was making before using drip irrigation and growing such a valuable crop!

What is next for Noelle you ask?

Like every good business owner, Noelle has her mind on expansion.  She wants more farmable land and to purchase a larger drip irrigation system.  She is also looking to grow moringa, a nutritional supplement high in protein, vitamins A, B, and C, and calcium.  There is a burgeoning demand for moringa so she can anticipate even more income in the future.

It is only because of donor support that iDE is able to have an office in Burkina Faso and assist farmers like Noelle in becoming successful entrepreneurs. To date, we have served 3,000 farmers in Burkina Faso alone, who have collectively earned over $180,000 in the last two years.

Continued donor support means more income for farmers in Burkina Faso and other iDE countries around the world. Every $1 donated to iDE equals $10 in additional income for farmers.

Thank you for investing in entrepreneurs.


6 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

A Small Loan Makes All the Difference in Bangladesh

Mitali Mondol-21, w/o Bipul Mondal live in Natherkandi village under Harta union of Wazirpur Upazila. They have not kid. Before involvement with ide-B Mitali worked as a house wife and occasionally worked as a day labor. With the support IDE she has established as shop selling grocery items and tea. Full time she works in the shop. Her husband is a day labor. Mitali is very happy now as she is earning money and household members acknowledge her as she is a earning member of the HH and use to meal 3 times a day that was 2 times before involvement with IDE.


Men are decision makers, women are a burden.

This is just one of the sentiments that was seen as culturally appropriate in Bangladesh only 40 years ago. Today, women are making their voices heard and taking lead roles within the Bangladeshi government.

Unfortunately, these strides have not trickled down to the poorest and most marginalized women, specifically in the southern region of Bangladesh. Women here serve as day laborers, or are involved in unpaid domestic work and small scale homestead vegetable production. This means they are dependent on seasonal work, and on their husband’s incomes. Even when earning an income themselves, women have little say as to how it is spent. This is where iDE is making a difference.

A few years ago, iDE started a project in Bangladesh to target poor and marginalized women in southern Bangladesh. We established small groups of women, who received training and a loan to start their own small farming business. The goal was to support them in earning a higher income and give them more confidence to voice their opinion.


iDE trained these women in business planning, and money management.  They were also supported in choosing the best technologies to invest in, in orderto make their business profitable. These technologies included jute sacks, pond dikes and “floating” farm techniques which provided them with more space to grow vegetables . When you grow more, you earn more.


Hasina Begum was part of a women’s group. She expanded her homestead gardening using techniques learned from the iDE training sessions. She used the loan to lease land and started cultivating vegetables on a larger scale, which she then sold to nearby markets. The profits she earned were used to repair her house. Most importantly, she can now afford three meals a day, instead of struggling to even provide one. Now that’s life changing!

Mitali Mondol also received iDE support. She set up a small shop in her neighborhood. Another woman, Gita, used her profits and bought a cart which she now rents to a puller, which gives her a regular, sustainable source of income.

When the most marginalized women significantly raise their income, it leads to many material and social benefits. The women reported greater decision making power within their household over expenditures. With their new income, they can now afford to buy three meals a day, medicine and educational materials for their children. We are grateful for the support from donors, which gave us the opportunity to make a difference for these women.

5 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Determination and Success in Ethiopia – Demu Bikila

2.2014 TulluBollo, Ethiopia Demu Bikila (24)_edited

In Ethiopia much of the land is owned by men. In fact, it is out of the ordinary to meet a female farmer who owns the land where she lives and works. This is only one of the reasons why Demu Bikila so exceptional.

From Addis Ababa, head southwest and you will intersect with a small town called Tulu Bolo. Turning from the highway down a dirt road, through an empty field, and over a dried up irrigation ditch, finally coming to the lush field and home of Demu.

Demu confidently starts to explain that she has been growing cabbage for four harvests and that she keeps only 50% for consumption and sells the other 50% to a nearby market via her farmer group. Demu says the iDE Farm Business Advisors (FBA) connected her to a local bank where she received a micro-loan so she could purchase a treadle pump and good seeds. The FBAs also helped her to find the best spot to set up her treadle pump and build out her field. She uses the proceeds from selling half of her harvest at the market to pay back her loan and for other expenses.

She says she uses the other funds to send two of her 5 children to school. She hopes that one day she will have enough money to send all of her children to school.

When asked what she used to do before farming, she says she took care of the home and children and that her husband was the farmer. Demu’s husband passed away a few years ago.

It was not long after Demu was introduced to iDE that she decided to join her local farmer group. She says, “Before iDE, I had no knowledge of agriculture and bought all of my food at the market.” You can imagine what a shock it was to her to have to learn a new trade and be the sole breadwinner for her family. Demu took it all in stride.

Her determined spirit and children kept her going. She is a minority as a woman and a land owner in Ethiopia, and now she has the knowledge and the tools for success. She can now say with a smile that she is a successful businesswoman and community leader.

2.2014 TulluBollo, Ethiopia Demu Bikila (21)
| Posted By: Ilana Martin

Florence and the machines!


Gardening with iDE technology generates income for Florence. She has improved her families lives and her husband is much closer to her.

Economic opportunities are extremely limited for rural women in Zambia. Women generally have fewer assets than men and limited opportunities to make money. They have difficulty gaining access to the money and credit they need to buy products and technologies and set up small businesses that generate income. And when it comes to economic decision making and agency to influence their husbands’ choices over the use of resources women have restricted power.

iDE’s Rural Prosperity Initiative (RPI) aims to empower women small-scale farmers to improve their incomes and positions in society using an innovative market orientated approach that focuses on improving access to productive water. iDE does not do giveaways. The only thing that is offered to women is training and advise on business, entrepreneurship and agronomy to give them the means to grow vegetables in the dry-season. To succeed women must invest their own money in the products and technologies that enable them to use their improved skills and knowledge in a meaningful way. iDE helps women small-scale farmers who cannot afford these products with loans facilitated through CETZAM MFI on a commercial basis. Ownership of technologies enables them to generate the revenue to repay the loans within six months, with a 97% repayment rate, to date.

Florence’s Story: Florence Mapulanga is a typical farmer from Kapini village, Chibombo in Zambia. She spends her life gardening whilst her husband is away in town during the week working as a bus driver. In 2006 she was struggling to sustain her large extended family. Her five children, mother in law, step son and his wife, brother and her brother in law all lived in a small, cramped traditional mud hut with thatched roof and even with their combined income they often went hungry

Despite their difficulties, Florence was determined to do all she could to make a better future for her family so she joined an iDE farm group later that year, under RPI, iDE’s flagship programme. She attended specialised workshops where she learnt about efficient water usage and a range of micro-irrigation technologies which can be used to access water in the dry season. With her husband’s wage and her efforts they saved enough to buy a small motor pump. Armed with her pump and improved knowledge about crop production (beans, cabbage, Irish potato, tomatoes, eggplant and courgette) from an iDE training session she was able to produce better quality and quantities of vegetables to sell at the market.

After working with iDE over a five year period, using iDE’s approach over consecutive growing seasons, in addition to her own exceptional management (including good agronomic practices and careful pest and disease control) her annual income has increased ten-fold from $200 a year (less than $1 a day) to $2000. She has lavished her money on her family. Today they all have three meals a day and a variety of nutritious foods. A larger solid brick house with a tin roof provides them with more comfort and space. And a solar panel powers new amenities such as a TV, phone and radio which has improved their quality of life and provided light so her children can do their schoolwork in the evening, giving them the best chance to succeed in life.

Florence says that her success has bought her closer to her husband: “He respects me more because I am not a sleeping housewife”. This respect, gained through her hard effort and entrepreneurship has enabled her to make important economic and managerial decisions that affect her and her family’s lives. For example she makes all the day to day decisions on her farm when her husband is away in town. He says, “she is the one who knows everything about gardening! She is the boss!” Her husband even trusts her with purchasing new products and technologies to further improve their lives, however most of the time they discuss all their options and make major decisions together as a unit. Unlike many other women in her community Florence’s voice is heard.

Her commitment to iDE’s philosophy resulted in her decision to invest heavily in widening her water application technology base (facilitated through iDE staff) with a variety of water saving and efficiency benefits. She bought:

  • A treadle pump in 2009 which she uses when she can’t afford petrol for her pump,
  • Two water storage tanks for convenience and efficiency as well as water quantification and regulation
  • A brand new drip irrigation system facilitated by iDE’s latest innovation the community Farm Business Advisor (FBA) – a local farmer and entrepreneur who gains commission from the sale of irrigation and other technologies, products and services.


A quiet, shy woman, Florence comes to life when she talks about how she will use her existing and new micro-irrigation technologies to support her new farm plan. She is currently clearing land to expand by 0.2 ha and set up the drip and tank set to grow watermelons for the first time. Once it is set up it can be left to irrigate in a self sustaining system. She also plans on distributing fertilizer through her pump and drip system (fertigation) ensuring each plant gets the right amount of nutrients directly to their roots.

Florence smiles happily at her prospects; “watermelon is something different from most farmers which means more money in my pocket!”

Florence is an inspirational woman, working on the farm full time, paying for her children to be in school and supporting her extended family.

With iDE’s help she has the confidence to focus on gardening as a lucrative business opportunity and alongside an improved quality of life has gained greater respect from her husband and the community. More women in rural Zambia can follow Florence’s path by working with iDE, even with limited means and an environment that is far from conducive to do so.

iDE’s has been investing in water technology for the rural poor and the economic empowerment of women for over 15 years in Zambia. It is from this experience that the importance of recognising and promoting women as agents of their own change has come to bear increased pertinence. iDE understand that approaching gender related issues is not a tick box exercise that merely requires inclusion of women but rather, involves appreciating and understanding women as decision makers with needs and aspirations.

Women’s invaluable contribution to rural development should be recognized!


3 March 2015 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Kim Sreng is growing a farm—and a family— in Siem Reap, Cambodia.



With a little training and a lot of hard work, entrepreneur Kim Sreng has turned a plot of land into a tomato empire.

She inherited land, but was not sure what to do with it until she visited a demonstration farm run by iDE. She had previously been growing cucumbers and selling them for a low price, but after seeing the income potential of a tomato farm she decided to start training with iDE.  Seven harvests later, she has grown over 6.5 tons (or 13,000 pounds) of tomatoes with a net profit of over $12,000.  In a country where the average yearly income is only $1,000 USD, her farm is a testament to the power of her entrepreneurship.

Her successful business has allowed her to invest where it matters most – her family.

The most important change in her life was the birth of her first child.  Cambodia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, but Kim was able to afford to have her baby in a hospital rather than at home.  She is proud to say her baby is happy and healthy.

As a working mother of a young baby, she is grateful to have her husband spend more time at home.  Because she is so successful, he doesn’t have to travel for work anymore and can work on the farm instead.

She has transformed her life over last three years for the better and there are many more changes to come.  In  fact, next year Kim and her husband plan to build a new house for their growing family. Until then, they are looking forward to having electricity in their home for the first time.

Kim has worked hard to make her farm so profitable. She plans to further her training with iDE and invest in more agricultural technology so her farm, and her family, can continue to thrive.




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