Solar Irrigation for Agricultural Resilience (SoLAR) in South Asia, a four-year project spanning from December 2019 to November 2023, is a new regional partnership program of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and other national partners in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The project aims to sustainably manage the water-energy-climate interlinkages in South Asia by promoting solar irrigation pumps (SIPs). The project’s primary goal is to contribute to climate-resilient, gender and socially inclusive agrarian livelihoods in South Asia by supporting national government efforts to promote solar irrigation. In the process, the project will also pave the way for sustainable and equitable groundwater governance by tackling some of the policy distortions, such as perverse electricity subsidies, which have created the current negative interlinkages between water and energy sectors in South Asia. Many government and non-government stakeholders are involved in this project to implement targets and activities in the four countries smoothly.
The SoLAR- SA project was formally launched at IWMI headquarter in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 21-22 January 2020, wherein a two-day inception workshop was organised. The objectives of the workshop included:
- To discuss and finalise year-1 work plan in consultation with various partners and stakeholders
- To enhance the understanding of how this project fits within the broader policy landscape of agricultural and irrigation transitions in general and solar irrigation in particular.
The outcome of this workshop was an inception report.
2nd Regional Forum
In the wake of Covid-19 restrictions, the 2nd regional forum was held virtually from 23-24 February 2021, wherein two-year plans were discussed for four South Asian countries, viz, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. On the first day, i.e., 23 February 2021, researchers from Bangladesh provided an overview of the progress made in Year one. The primary aim of the project is to replace diesel irrigation in off-grid areas. The Indian context followed this, wherein the researchers gave an overview of the current status of four activities, viz., the impact of large-scale adoption of SIPs on groundwater resources, impact assessment of the Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme, training of SKY farmers and a National Forum held in the first week of February 2021. In the second half of the session, researchers from Nepal spoke about the project planning and achievements for year one that was divided under four headings, viz, impact evaluation (IE) of SIP, qualitative gender and social inclusion (GESI) study, demonstration pilot-MG connected SIP and capacity development of local technicians on SIP and knowledge forums. Lastly, for Pakistan, the researchers updated on the behavioural study along with the findings from a telephonic survey of 127 farmers across five districts of the Punjab province.
On 24 February 2021, the five innovation fund grantees from batch one, viz., KHM Limited, Switch On, Karma Power, Gham Power and PARC, presented their findings on individual projects based in the four countries. Following are the projects undertaken by the grantees:
- Integrated Farming and Women Empowerment (IFWE) through SIP: KHM Limited, Bangladesh
- Mini Solar Pump for Women Farmers: Switch On, West Bengal, India
- Mobile URJA: Karma Power, India
- Yield improvement in a box: Gham Power
- Livelihood Improvement of Dug well dependent vulnerable communities through energy and water-efficient Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) systems: PARC, Pakistan.
The Session Summary Report can be found here.
SoLAR Year 1 Updates & Results
- SoLAR- Bangladesh Year 1 Updates and Results.
- SoLAR-Pakistan Year 1 Updates and Results.
- SoLAR-Nepal Year 1 Updates and Results.
Presentations by Innovation Fund Grantees