Getting pumped for Africa

On Aug. 25, the Grand River chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) held a fundraising event to support their “Agriculture as a Business” program in Ghana. Held in the public square, the one-day pump-a-thon raised $5326 towards their goal of $6000.

A treadle pump replicating those used in Ghana to irrigate agricultural fields was set up in the square to exhibit the technology made available to Ghanaian farmers to improve their production.

“We want to treadle pump in order to support this program and to support what the farmers are doing,” said Alyssa Lindsay, the Grand River chapter leader.

Traditional African food, provided by East African Café, was also available by donation at the event.

The focus of the event, “Agriculture as a Business”, is a partnership program between EWB and Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

“[The program aims] to help farmers see agriculture as more than a cultural practice but as business, as something that can actually produce income and pull them out of poverty,” explained Lindsay.

“It also gives them skills like business planning, marketing, business development, so they can take their small-scale farms from feeding their own families to actually being successful businesses,” said Lindsay.

“By doing that they can pay for health care, pay for education and do a lot more.” The funds raised from this event will directly support the chapter’s junior fellow, Elizabeth Logan, who is currently working in Ghana.

Lindsay explained, “[Logan] is specifically looking at challenges that farmers are facing and looking at challenges that the program is facing, acting as a management consultant.”

“It’s not that we have the answers,” she said. “We have a different point of view and together we’re a collaborative effort … to make the program stronger.”

In partnering with the local government and farmers, the improvements made are more self-sustainable for the individual farmers and can be maintained well into the future.

“Instead of actually giving things, we’re helping to strengthen the program being run by the Ministry of Agriculture,” said Lindsay.

Still shy of their fundraising goal, EWB continued their campaign an additional week in hopes of reaching their target.

What is a treadle pump?

The force of the treadle motion propelling water from a source throughout their agricultural fields.
– A farmer would have to treadle pump for 2 to 3 hours per day to irrigate a field the size of the public square.
– This technology allows farmers to continue their practices throughout the dry season, promoting yields and financial security.

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