The simple act of riding a bike helps rural families with limited resources in Mozambique to irrigate their family plots. The pedal-powered systems have been dubbed Bici-bombas (‘bike pumps’) by the NGO Azada Verde.
In Mozambique, as in many other sub-Saharan African countries, it only rains three months a year, as long as there are no prolonged floods or droughts as a result of climate change. During these three months, locals practise subsistence farming, meaning that they produce corn, a food that should last 12 months of the year.
But since Azada Verde (Green Pedal) started installing bike pumps during the dry season, they can continue to practice agriculture during the eight months when it’s not raining. Thanks to these low-cost irrigation systems, families can have a more varied diet, reduce their food insecurity, earn an income and improve the quality of their daily lives. In the agricultural plots they plant vegetables, 30% of which goes to the farmer’s personal consumption while the remaining 70% is sold in local markets.
The project was born in May 2018 with the installation of the first three Bici-bombas in the town of Toronga, Sofala province. To date, 25 Bike Bombs have been built and installed for 25 farming families (150 beneficiaries) in two different districts (Buzi and Chibabava) in Sofala Province.
They are built locally with 70% recycled materials. The materials are bought in the city of Beira (capital of the province) and then sent to two workshops in rural communities, where technicians build and then install them. The project is financed through microcredits to the beneficiaries, who also receive technical support for both agricultural techniques and maintenance. AzadaVerde’s goal is to install 50 new bike pumps each year.
Editor’s update, October 2021
The pandemic made food insecurity worse across the African continent. Azada Verde stepped up and launched a fundraising campaign to install a solar irrigation system and allow communities to pump water from the Buzi River all year round. Thanks to the new system, the 44 farmers and their families making up the Agricultural Association of Massane will be able to plant vegetables and cereals outside the wet season, enjoy a more varied diet and prevent malnutrition.
This will be the NGO’s second solar irrigation system — in 2019, they successfully installed one for the Agricultural Association of Nhaume. Not only the 30 families in the community improved their diet but agriculture also provided them with a steady source of income.
Hugo Coll Dalmau, founder
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