Yasmina Zaidman spoke at SAIS’s Water and Agriculture: Implications for Development and Growth event on March 30, 2009. Yasmina is the director of knowledge and communications for the Acumen Fund which works with developing communities to bring self-sufficiency to those who are forgotten. While the Acumen Fund has a wide range of projects in many areas, the initiative that caught my attention was the partnership forged between the Global Easy Water Products (GEWP) Company and smallholder farmers in Pakistan.
GEWP builds small but scalable drip irrigation systems for smaller farms. International Development Enterprises is the parent company of GEWP. Together IDE and the Acumen Fund launched GEWP in 2004. Since then, GEWP has sold over 125,000 irrigation systems to small farmers. This has improved the lives of over 650,000 people. Recently GEWP has partnered with a company called Microdrip to bring this technology to local farmers in Pakistan.
Yasmina quoted a Pakistani farmer who said, “That he was proudest of being able to
send his daughters to school-at school they will learn tolerance.” The ability to
increase crop production through improved irrigation has improved the lives and futures
of thousands of small farmers many of whom survived on merely $1 a day. What is so
great about this partnership is that GEWP is based in India and Microdrip headquartered
in Pakistan. Sometimes, crossing the line is a positive step. Yasmina spoke of the
inherent troubles bringing farmers and engineers from India and Pakistan together
across the border of the two nations. In the end, she noted, “it was worth the effort.”